March 2008

            Checklist of Standard Elements for Significant Guidance Documents

D  Title Planning for Natural Disaster Debris Guidance

D  Document ID Number EPA530-K-08-001

D  Issuing Office or Offices  Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response/Office of Solid

D  Applicable Activity(ties) EPA 's goal is to update the previous 1995 Planning document
   "Planningfor Disaster Debris " with current information (e.g., consistent with FEMA and
   States) and to stress more environmentalprotectiveness.  This guidance document, based on
   experience  of communities, discusses the management of debris from natural disasters, such
   as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, floods, wildfires, and winter storms. This document is
   intended to help a planner in the beginning stages of the planning process or to assist a
   planner in revising an existing disaster debris management plan.  It provides planners with
   more awareness for  environmental protectiveness when it comes to dealing with disaster

D  Affected Entities or Persons  Local communities (including cities, counties, tribes, etc.);
   local governments (emergency responders); states (solid waste, agricultural and public
   health agencies); other federal agencies responding to natural disasters; EPA regions; solid
   waste management industry; and the general public.

D  Applicable Statute  or Regulation Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); 40
   CFR parts 25 7 and 258

D  Disclaimer This document is not a regulation.  It does not change or substitute for any legal
   requirement.  This document is not a rule, is not legally enforceable,  and does not confer
   legal rights or impose legal requirements upon any member of the public, States, or any
   other Federal agency. The word "should" in this manual does not connote a requirement,
   but rather indicates EPA 's recommended approach.

D  Issuance date and use March 2008

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
About This Document

•  This document is an update of "Planning for Disaster Debris" published by the U.S.
   Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1995 (document EPA530-K-95-OIO).

•  This document is designed for local communities (including cities, counties, tribes, etc.) who
   are encouraged to create disaster debris management plans.  Information is included on:
       o  Recommended components of a disaster debris management plan.
       o  Management options for various debris streams that might be found after a natural
       o  A collection of case studies that highlights how several communities prepared for
          and managed debris generated by recent natural disasters.
       o  Federal, state, and local resources to consult in planning for natural disasters.

•  This document discusses the management of debris from natural disasters, such as
   hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, floods, wildfires, and winter storms.  It does
   not discuss the management of debris from deliberate or planned incidents of national

•  This document does not, however, provide all the information a planner will need to write
   a debris management plan. To do so, communities will need input from neighboring
   communities, state officials, local contractors, and a variety of local agencies. In general, only
   federal regulations are discussed in this document, where applicable. State and local
   governments may have more stringent regulatory requirements. State and local officials
   should be consulted to ensure compliance with those regulations. The information in this
   document is subject to change as federal regulations and recommendations  change as new
   information becomes available.

•  Additional resources:
       o  EPA's Disaster Debris website:

       o  EPA regional offices and state environmental agencies can provide additional
          guidance. Contact information can be found at:

       o  The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) "Public Assistance: Debris
          Management Guide" (publication 325) was updated in July 2007.  It should be
          consulted, especially to help ensure a debris management plan will be eligible for
          public assistance from the federal government, when applicable. This guide can be
          found on FEMA's website at:

       o  FEMA has the same regional designations as EPA; their contact information can be
          found at:
       o  FEMA's Emergency Management Institute (EMI) has several courses on debris
          management, incident command, recovery operations, mitigation, and other topics
          of interest. A complete listing of EMI's training courses can be found at:

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
   "Every disaster is different, but a plan will give you a place to start." - Marc E>runer, Solid Waste
                                 Authority of Palm Beach County
 "Disasters are come-as-you-are battles.  Having a plan will make you more prepared when the battle
               comes." -John Rogers, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
     This document is not a regulation. It does not change or substitute for any legal
     requirement. This document is not a rule, is not legally enforceable, and does not confer
     legal rights or impose legal requirements upon any member of the public, States, or any
     other Federal agency. The word "should" in this manual does not connote a requirement but
     rather indicates EPA's recommended approach.

     This document references non-EPA web sites. These external links provide additional
     information that may be useful or interesting and are being provided consistent with the
     intended purpose of this document.  However,  EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of
     information provided by these links.  Providing  links to non-EPA web sites does not
     constitute an endorsement by EPA or any of its employees of the sponsors of the sites or
     the information or products presented on the sites.
Cover photographs (from the top): debris field in Greensburg Kansas after the 2007 tornado; metal
separated for recycling in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina (courtesy of the Department of
Environmental Engineering Sciences at the University of Florida); vegetative debris mulching operation in
Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina (also courtesy of the Department of Environmental Engineering
Sciences at the University of Florida).

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris

The following individuals shared their knowledge and experiences of recovery from natural
disasters and provided input to this document:

Federal Agencies

Federal Emergency Management Agency
Jonathon Anderson, Byron Mason, Steven Miller, and Denise Yandle
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Allen Morse
U.S. Department of the Interior
John Stewart
State Agencies

Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Peter Grasel, Lee Martin, and John Labie
Kansas Department of Health & Environment
Paul Graves
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
Mark Williams, P.E.
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
David Haldeman
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Michael Sills, Ph.D., P.E.
New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Edwin Dassatti
North Carolina Department of Human  Health Services
Jeff Dellinger
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Shawn  Davis
Washington State Department of Ecology
Brian Dick and James Pearson
Local Government Agencies

Bay County Solid Waste Management Department (Florida)
Mark Triplett

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Escambia County Department of Solid Waste Management (Florida)
Bob Mclaughlin
Orange County Utilities (Florida)
Debbie Sponsler
Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County (Florida)
Marc Bruner
San Diego County Department of Public Works (California)
Orelia  Debraal, Jon Rollin, and Wayne Williams
Seminole County Solid Waste Division (Florida)
Tom Waters and Jeff Jay

Nongovernmental Organizations

American Red  Cross
Jennifer Brennan
Steel Recycling Institute
Bill Heenan
National Demolition Association
Michael Taylor, CAE

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris

ACI          Air curtain incinerator
ACM         Asbestos-containing material
APHIS        U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
ASTSWMO   Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials
BMRA        Building Materials Reuse Association
C&D         Construction and demolition
CAA         Clean Air Act
CERCLA     Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
CFR         Code of Federal Regulations
CPD         Collection, processing, and disposal/reuse
DHS         U.S. Department of Homeland Security
DMD DST    Debris Management and Disposal Decision Support Tool
DOE         U.S. Department of Energy
DOI         U.S. Department of the Interior
DOT         U.S. Department of Transportation
ECP         Emergency Conservation Program
EPA         U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EMAC        Emergency Management Assistance Compact
EMI          Emergency Management Institute
EPCRA       Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
ESF          Emergency support function
EWP         Emergency Watershed Protection Program
FEMA        U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency
FHWA       U.S. Dept. of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration
FSA          U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency
GIS          Geographic information system
GPS         Global positioning system
H2S          Hydrogen sulfide
HAZUS-MH   Hazards U.S.  Multi-Hazard program
HHW        Household hazardous waste
HSPD        Homeland Security Presidential Directive
ICS          Incident Command System
LBP          Lead-based paint
LDEQ        Louisiana  Department of Environmental Quality
LEPC         Local Emergency Planning Committee
MDEQ       Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Acronyms (cont.)

MOU        Memorandum of understanding
MSW        Municipal solid waste
NCP         National Contingency Plan
NESHAP     National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants
NIBS         National Institute of Building Sciences
NIMS        National Incident Management System
NRF         National Response Framework
NRC         National Response Center
NRCS        Natural Resources Conservation Service
OPPT        Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics
ORD        U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development
OSHA       U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration
OSW        U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Solid Waste
PA           Public assistance
PCB         Polychlorinated biphenyl
RCA         Refrigerant-containing appliance
RCRA        Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
READ        Recycling Electronics and Asset Disposition
RFP         Request for Proposals
SIP           State Implementation Plan
SWA        Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, Florida
SWANA     Solid Waste Association of North America
TRAGIS      Transportation Routing Analysis Geographic Information System
TSCA        Toxic Substances Control Act
USAGE       U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
USCG        U.S. Coast Guard
USDA        U.S. Department of Agriculture
WBUG       Woody Biomass Utilization Group

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Table of Contents


   2.1   Pre-Planning Activities	5
   2.2   Ancillary Activities	5
        2.2.1   Identify Debris Types and Forecast Amounts	6
        2.2.2   List Applicable Federal, State, and Local Environmental Regulations	9
        2.2.3   Inventory Current Capacity for Debris Management and Determine Debris
              Tracking Mechanisms	9
        2.2.4   Pre-select Debris Management Sites	10
        2.2.5   Identify Equipment and Administrative Needs	I 3
        2.2.6   Develop a Communication Plan	15
        2.2.7   Create a Disaster Debris Prevention Strategy	17
   2.3   Create a Debris Removal Strategy	 19
   2.4   Harmful Materials Identification and Handling Recommendations	19
   2.5   Recycling Options	22
   2.6   Waste-to-Energy Options	27
   2.7   Disposal Options	28
   2.8   Open Burning	30
   2.9   Summary of Appropriate Environmental Practices Concerning Disposal Issues	30

   3.1   State Governments	32
   3.2   Mutual Aid Agreements and Other Local Resources	32
   3.3   Information Sharing	33
   3.4   Private Sector Resources	33

   4.1   National Response Framework	37
   4.2   Federal  Emergency Management Agency	38
   4.3   U.S. Army Corps of Engineers	39
   4.4   U.S. Environmental  Protection Agency	40
   4.5   U.S. Coast Guard	42
   4.6   U.S. Department of Agriculture	43
   4.7   Federal  Highway Administration	44


   6.1   State Plans and Guidance	46
   6.2   City and County Plans	47


Planning for Natural Disaster Debris

   Louisiana: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita	A-2
   Mississippi: Hurricane Katrina	A-4
   Palm Beach County, Florida: Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne	A-9
   San Diego County, California: 2003 Cedar and Pines Fires	A-10
   Escambia County, Florida: Hurricane Ivan	A-1 I
   Los Angeles, California: The Northridge Earthquake	A-13
   Alstead, New Hampshire: 2005 Flooding	A-15


Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
 I   Introduction

Each year, natural disasters, such as wildfires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and
winter storms, challenge American communities. The National Science and Technology Council
estimates that these disasters cost the United States $52 billion per year in the form of lives
lost and property destroyed (2005).  Natural disasters have generated large amounts of debris,
causing considerable challenges for public officials.  Debris is the waste stream resulting from a
natural disaster and often includes building materials, sediments, vegetative debris, personal
property, and other materials.  Cleaning up this debris can be time-consuming and costly
(FEMA, 2007). As with other federal agencies, EPA's response pursuant to a disaster declared
by the President  is facilitated through the National Response Framework (NRF).  Under the
NRF, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USAGE) is the coordinator and primary agency for
Emergency Support Function (ESF) # 3, which encompasses among other responsibilities, the
management of debris.  EPA is a support agency to the USAGE  for ESF #3.  Like other
responding agencies, EPA receives mission assignments from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) to carry out activities in support of state and local governments.
(See section 4.1 for further detail on the NRF and ESFs).

After a disaster occurs, communities are faced with the dilemma of how to use their existing
capacity for recycling, composting, combustion, and disposal of  natural disaster debris.  Relying
on only one of these debris management options may not be sufficient to handle the
overwhelming amount of debris generated by a disaster. Communities  may need to develop
additional staging and storage areas to store, separate, or process the debris before it is sent to
a recycling, composting, combustion, or disposal facility.  A disaster debris management plan
will aid communities in determining the appropriate management options in advance of a
disaster to avoid  rushed or, ultimately, poor decisions.  Although the recovery process may
take a long time,  perhaps even years, careful planning can significantly minimize costly mistakes,
speed recovery, protect human health and the environment, and prevent the generation of
additional waste.  A plan identifying cost-effective debris management options and resources
can save money.  It also will increase control over debris management and improve
administrative efficiency. The plan also may serve as a resource  document in negotiating
technical and  financial assistance with FEMA and other agencies. Having a sound disaster debris
management plan will expedite  removal  of debris—an important sign of recovery that residents
will see. Expedited removal also will reduce dangers of fire,  personal injury, and disease

Any of the following communities may benefit from the advice presented in  this document:

   •   Communities at risk of significant damage from a natural disaster.
   •   Communities currently without a disaster debris management plan.
   •   Communities with emergency response plans that overlook disaster debris cleanup or
       rely on a  number of very limited management options.
   •   Communities with existing disaster debris management plans that have not been
       updated to include any new community debris management options or that do not
       reflect management capacity reductions.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
This document, based on experiences of communities, recommends some helpful planning
considerations when  drafting or revising a disaster debris management plan. It describes steps a
community can take to prepare for dealing with the debris created by natural disasters to speed
recovery. It also describes ways that communities can reduce the burden on their solid waste
management systems in the event of a natural disaster. As evidenced by Hurricane Katrina in
2005, natural disasters can  cause incredible destruction. All community officials that contributed
to this document recognize that even the best disaster debris management plan is likely to have
its shortcomings.  Having a plan, however, is important because it lays the groundwork for a
community's preparedness and response to a natural disaster, particularly if it is large-scale.
Since  it is impossible to predict the future, communities are encouraged to plan for both large
and small natural disasters.

This document does not provide all the information a planner will need to write a debris
management plan, however.  The development of a disaster debris management plan usually
requires input  from neighboring communities, state officials, local contractors, and a variety of
local agencies.  This document is intended to help a planner in the beginning  stages of the
planning process or to assist a planner in revising an existing disaster debris  management plan.
This document, however, is not a regulation.  It does not change or substitute for any legal
requirement. This document  is not a rule, is  not legally enforceable, and does not confer legal
rights or impose legal requirements upon any member of the public, States,  or any other
Federal agency. This  manual  uses the word "should" to describe EPA recommendations or
suggestions; it  does not connote a  requirement. This document references  non-EPA web sites.
These external links provide additional information that may be useful or interesting and are
being provided consistent with the intended  purpose of this document. However, EPA cannot
attest to the accuracy of information provided by these links.  Providing links to non-EPA web
sites does not  constitute an endorsement by EPA or any of its employees of the sponsors of
the sites or the information or products presented on the sites.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
2   Components of a  Disaster Debris Management Plan

Natural disasters can generate tremendous quantities of debris; communities should plan for
disasters they may face. An effective disaster debris management plan addresses issues beyond
initial removal, prioritizes debris management options, and also includes a strategy for recycling
and reuse of materials  (including mulching/composting) to reduce the burden of volume on
disposal facilities. There are many different possible components of a disaster debris
management plan. Recommendations presented here are based on insights from community
officials who have conducted debris clean-up after a natural disaster.  A disaster debris
management plan could include  the following components:

       I.  Pre-planning activities
       2.  Ancillary activities
             a.  Identify likely debris types and forecast amounts
             b.  List  applicable federal, state, and local environmental regulations
             c.  Inventory current capacity for debris management and determine debris
                tracking  mechanisms
             d.  Pre-select temporary debris storage sites
             e.  Identify equipment and administrative needs (including pre-negotiated
             f.  Develop communication plan
             g.  Create a disaster debris prevention strategy
       3.  Create a debris  removal  strategy
       4.  Harmful materials identification and handling recommendations
       5.  Recycling options
       6.  Waste-to-energy options
       7.  Disposal options
       8.  Open  burning options

A flowchart describing the  process of creating a debris management plan is presented in Figure
I.  This section includes recommendations that may aid in drafting language for a community's
disaster debris management plan.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
        Figure  I.  Flowchart of disaster debris management planning activities.
 Determine FEMA Public Assistance eligibility requirements
  and Pilot Program approval process for a disaster debris
  management plan
 Identify planning team
 Determine a schedule for updating the plan
                                               Identify and forecast debris amounts and types
                                                - Use available software and other methods for
                                                - Identify debris from commercial activities or unique
                                               Evaluate applicable environmental rules
                                               - Federal, state, & local requirements
                                               - Non-hazardous wastes, hazardous wastes, PCBs,
                                                ACM, treated wood, lead based paint, electronics, etc
                                               - Develop regulatory contact list
                                               Inventory debris capacity
                                               - List location of all types of debris management facilities
                                               - Evaluate additional capacity
                                                  - Recycling, waste to energy, disposal
                                               - Perform environmental assessment of existing or potential
                                             • Pre-select debris management sites
                                               -  Determine applicable regulations/permits
                                               -  Perform environmental assessment
                                               -  Waste types
                                               -  Identify public/private land for use
                                               -  Pre-negotiate contracts

                                             • Evaluate equipment and administrative needs
                                              - Equipment needs, availability and pre-negotiated contracts/
                                               pre-qualified contractors
                                              - Staffing needs, office space, mutual aid agreements
                                               Develop communication plan
                                               - Plan for communication with debris management team,
                                               local communities, federal and state Agencies, residential
                                               waste haulers and the public.
                                             • Strategize for disaster debris prevention
                                              - Measures for public and government to protect property
            Management of
• Debris removal strategy
• Address harmful materials
• Determine management method for each type of debris
 (recycling, waste to energy, disposal, open-burning)
• Plan should address
 - Environmental protection
 - Segregation of materials
 - Collection
 - Facility delivery requirements
 - Temporary storage

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris

There are three activities that we recommend before starting the disaster debris management
plan.  The first step is to understand FEMA's requirements for public assistance eligibility and
the approval process under their Public Assistance Pilot Program.  FEMA has produced a guide
for debris management plans (publication 325) that discusses eligibility for Public Assistance that
can be found at: (  FEMA also
provides workshops throughout the country on creating plans. While not all disaster recovery
efforts will qualify for federal funding from FEMA,  it is important that the plan meet FEMA's
requirements in the event that the disaster is severe enough to qualify for federal funding.
More about FEMA's Debris Management Plan Public Assistance program can be found at:
( and in section 4.2 of this document.  In 2007,
FEMA also began a Public Assistance Pilot Program. This program encourages  and provides
incentives for the development of a plan that includes recycling.  Plans voluntarily submitted to
FEMA for approval and subsequently approved under this program are eligible  for increased
federal cost share during a disaster recovery. More information about the Public Assistance
Pilot Program can be found at: and in
section 4.2 of this document.  FEMA's regional office contact information can be found at:

Second, a team should be identified for the plan's  creation.  This team may include planning
officials, emergency management officials, environmental officials, and first responders. The
team  may also include officials from other communities that have experienced  disasters in the
past.  The team should establish how the plan will be created and who, beyond the team,
should review it, such  as neighboring communities or state and federal officials.

Last, it is recommended that a schedule for updating the plan be established. Updating a
community's disaster debris management plan is important to ensure that it  reflects  current
practices and  policies.  The plan could be reviewed once a year and revised as  needed.  For
example, outdated forms, such as time sheets and materials tracking forms, might need to be
revised.  If reuse and recycling practices are expanded, they could be added to the plan.  New
developments  may change  the collection strategy  and may contribute to larger debris amounts.
Should a disaster occur, supporting agencies will find the plan  most useful if it is up-to-date and
describes current practices and policies, as well as the types, locations, and capacities of existing
solid waste management facilities.


A variety of ancillary activities could be addressed in the disaster debris  management plan.
These are tasks that do not directly involve the management of the disaster  debris, but are
important to an effective response program. Ancillary activities  help communities understand
the possible scope of a debris problem and how their community can address  it given the
resources and facilities that they currently have or have access to.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
2.2.1   Identify Debris Types and Forecast Amounts

The types of materials that will make up the disaster debris stream should be assessed. Some
types of debris result more frequently from certain types of natural disasters. Planners on the
Atlantic and Gulf Coasts faced with responding to hurricanes need to plan for different debris
streams, volumes of debris, and  collection circumstances than planners in the West, who are
confronted with, for example, earthquakes.  Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes,
floods, winter snow and ice storms and wildfires can cause damage to buildings, roads, bridges,
and other structures, causing construction and demolition (C&D)  materials generation. These
disasters can generate large quantities of treated wood, including downed  utility poles, fencing,
and decks.  Damaged vehicles and structures are sources of large quantities of mixed metals.  If
buildings are severely damaged, the debris stream could  include furniture and other personal
property, electronic waste, white goods, household hazardous wastes (HHW) (i.e., leftover
household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable,  or reactive ingredients), and
putrescible wastes.

Since the characteristics and features of a  community are diverse,  each community should
identify the waste types that are likely to be generated and will need to be managed.  Planners
may also evaluate whether their area will face special waste management issues unique to their
area, such as quarantines for vegetation that is diseased or contains pests.  Communities could
also assess the major types of industries and commercial enterprises in the area to determine
the types of debris that may be generated  and dispersed.  For instance, storm surge from a
hurricane may move materials from an industrial complex several miles away. Communities
may want to work with these businesses to determine how they will work with the community
in ensuring the management of this debris.

HURRICANES have three primary sources of destruction: powerful winds, storm surge, and
rain. The storm surge causes flooding along coast lines, causing much of the damage and
resulting debris, including C&D materials,  damaged automobiles and boats, furniture, and other
debris. Winds cause destruction that can  extend many miles inland, resulting in fallen trees and
flying debris.  Vegetative debris is usually the most voluminous debris stream generated by most
hurricanes. Major  hurricanes can also leave behind large amounts  of displaced sediments.

EARTHQUAKES are caused by a sudden movement of the earth's crust.  Generally, most
destruction is closest to the epicenter, radiating damage outward,  although this is not always
the case. Resulting debris can include C&D materials, automobiles, furniture, and other debris.

TORNADOES inflict damage on structures and infrastructure from high winds and resulting
projectile materials, putting C&D materials, automobiles, vegetative debris, furniture, and other
materials into the waste stream.

FLOODS occur when an overflow of water submerges land. High waters destroy structures
and personal property; uproot trees; and displace sand, soil, and sediment. Floods can  also
destroy roads and  bridges, isolating communities and impacting a community's ability to clean
up debris. As soon as flood waters recede, people begin to dispose flood-damaged household
items.  Mud, sediment, sandbags, and other reinforcing materials also add to the volume of

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
debris needing management, as do C&D materials and mixed metals from demolished and
dismantled houses and automobiles.

 WILDFIRES typically leave less debris than other types of disasters, but they can generate
large amounts of mixed debris, ash and charred wood waste, mixed metals,  C&D materials,
fire-damaged  cars, furniture and other home contents, and scorched soil. In addition, large-scale
loss of plants  serving as ground cover can lead to mud slides, increasing the  debris stream.

WINTER STORMS create large amounts of vegetative debris. Heavy snow and  ice
accumulations coat tree branches to the point of breaking. They can also collapse roof
structures, causing the generation of C&D materials. In addition, icy road conditions can
impede the debris removal process.

VOLCANOES create ash and molten rock debris. A landslide or debris avalanche can result
in additional debris, including, damaged structures, charred wood waste, downed trees, mixed
metals and C&D materials.

Forecasts of the amount and types of debris generated during different types and sizes of
natural disasters help the planner understand the scope of debris likely to require  handling.
These estimates can be based on previous experience or can be made using forecast tools.
Due to the  unpredictable nature of natural disasters, however, no estimation tool  will provide a
completely accurate number. These tools are meant to generate estimates  that will help a
community understand the possible types and amounts of debris that may be generated.  Past
disasters in  other areas can also give planners an idea of the amount and types of debris that
are likely to be generated.  A description of debris management activities from several recent
disasters is presented in Appendix A.

Of the two tools available from federal agencies, the Hazards U.S. Multi-Hazard  (HAZUS-MH)
program is a nationally applicable standardized methodology and software program that
estimates potential losses from earthquakes, hurricane winds, and floods. HAZUS-MH was
developed by FEMA under contract with the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS).
HAZUS-MH uses state-of-the-art Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software  to map and
display hazard data and the results of damage and economic loss estimates for buildings and
infrastructure. It also allows users to estimate the impacts of earthquakes, hurricane winds, and
floods on populations. More information and ordering instructions for HAZUS-MH can be
found at FEMA's website (

Other debris  estimates are available from the USAGE.  Prior to a forecasted hurricane landfall,
the USAGE uses geospatial tools to provide estimates of possible debris volumes,  needs for
water and ice commodities, number  of people and households likely within the area impacted
by hurricane force winds, and possible temporary roofing and temporary housing needs.  Model
estimates are developed and posted on a website ( The first
model runs are made approximately  three days before landfall; the last model runs may be days
after landfall and may be a reduced suite of model runs and model outputs.  The USAGE
developed a set of equations to calculate possible amounts of debris from hurricanes making
landfall along the Gulf and East Coasts of the continental  United States. The debris equations
consider five primary factors: number of households, vegetation density factor, commercial

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
density factor (non-residential debris), storm wind intensity, and rainfall intensity.  The
equations were developed to provide a +/- 30% estimate of possible debris volumes that may
be generated by various storms.

The accuracy of the USAGE model is improved by calculating debris volumes at census-tract
level but the model results need to be viewed with three key considerations. First, the volume
estimated is a total amount of debris from a storm from residential sources and a limited
consideration of non-residential sources.  Second, the model cannot take into account
(particularly before landfall) minor, yet significant, variations in storm intensity. Third, the
model does not account for debris that might result from flooding caused by storm-related
rainfall.  The present model is a planning model best viewed as a good indicator of the
approximate volume of debris from a storm event. Any community can visit the USAGE
website ( under debris management) and use the model to produce
debris estimates specific to their community.  There are also equations that will help compute
the number and size of temporary disposal sites required for a known debris quantity.  Contact
the number listed on the website for additional help.
                      USAGE Hurricane Debris Prediction Model

   Q = H (C) (V) (B) (S)

   Q = estimated debris total generated in cubic yards
   Note: The predicted accuracy of the model is ±30%

   H  = number of households, or population/3 (household = population divided by 3)
   C  = hurricane  category factor (cat I  = 2, cat2 = 8, cat3 = 26, cat 4 = 50, catS = 80)
   V = density of  vegetation (I.I for light,  1.3 for medium,  1.5 for heavy)
   B = percentage of commercial structures (1.0 for light, 1.2 for medium, 1.3 for heavy)
   S = precipitation factor (1.0 for none to light,  1.3 for medium to heavy)

There are also estimation tools available from private companies.  Some communities have
tailored tools to their specific area.  As building codes, age, and styles differ among geographical
regions, models specific to a region may produce more accurate results. The Broward County
Emergency Management Agency (Florida) produced HurDET, which models hurricane debris
specific to South Florida ( The
Solid Waste Authority (SWA) of Palm Beach County, Florida utilized GIS-based hurricane
debris prediction software as part of its disaster debris management plan. Palm Beach County
found the model to be invaluable in the few days preceding and following the landfall of
Hurricane Frances. "Our first meeting with FEMA to assess the damage of Hurricane Frances
lasted mere minutes," Marc Bruner of SWA said. "Knowing how much debris you are going to
receive helps you  prepare for it." They estimated that SWA would receive more than three
million cubic yards of vegetation and  mixed debris. The estimate was within 20% of the actual
debris processed.  Additional information may be found at SWA's website

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
2.2.2  List Applicable Federal, State, and Local Environmental Regulations

Communities need to understand before a disaster how all waste types must be managed
according to federal, state, and local regulations.  Once a disaster strikes, there will not be time
to do extensive research. An effective disaster debris management plan includes a listing of all
regulations and how each debris type  must be managed according to those regulations. It is
recommended that the plan also include an updated contact list of pertinent federal, state,  and
local environmental officials whom a community can reach in the event that guidance on the
regulations is needed during clean-up.  This contact list should include contacts beyond
environmental officials, such as those from FEMA and USAGE.  Contacts at EPA's regional
offices and state environmental agencies can also be found on EPA's website
(  FEMA has the same regional designations as
EPA and their contact information can be found on FEMA's website

2.2.3  Inventory Current Capacity for Debris Management and Determine Debris
       Tracking Mechanisms

After the amount and  type of debris are estimated, planners need to assess the region's
capacity to manage the debris.  Solid waste management facilities, including disposal, recycling
and reuse, and combustion facilities need to  be inventoried, along with their daily and permitted
capacity to receive different types of debris.  Each facility's ability to manage additional debris
beyond their normal or permitted daily load should be evaluated.  It is  recommended that
contacts for all solid waste facilities are listed for quick reference along with the facilities'
physical locations, including latitude/longitude coordinates, global positioning system (GPS)
coordinates, and/or road maps.  Lists  of any  other necessary  service providers (such as
demolition contractors, refrigerant removers, electronics processors, etc.) could also be

Natural disasters can impact major transportation routes. Therefore, a community should
evaluate all options for moving debris to  preferred facilities. Consider  other forms of
transportation beyond trucks, such as rail and boats.  The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE)
Transportation Routing Analysis Geographic Information System (TRAGIS) can be consulted to
determine transportation routes (  Depending on the expected amount
of debris, transportation needs for the debris are also very important to consider. Section  2.2.5
discusses the potential need for additional vehicles to transport the debris, as well as fuel

If there is not sufficient capacity to manage the predicted amount of debris, additional waste
management facilities outside of the immediate area or suitable areas that could be developed
into a solid waste management facility should also be identified. Identifying these areas in
advance allows time for any necessary environmental assessments  required by state or local
environmental agencies. Communities also could establish mutual  aid agreements with
neighboring communities in advance of a natural disaster to help ensure that additional debris
management capacity is available in surrounding areas in an emergency.  This may allow a
community to handle debris locally without needing to establish new debris management sites.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
To help planners determine debris management options, EPA's Office of Research and
Development's (ORD) National Homeland Security Research Center developed the Debris
Management and Disposal Decision Support Tool (DMD DST). While the DMD DST does not
direct the user how to dispose of debris, it provides options for disposal of various types of
debris. The DMD DST contains several databases of disposal facilities including: MSW landfills,
C&D materials landfills, MSW combustion facilities,  hazardous waste combustion facilities,
medical waste incinerators, industrial wood-fired boilers, electric arc furnaces, aluminum and
copper recyclers/smelters, and hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. Basic
facility details and contact information are provided  to help users determine which facility or
facilities might be best suited to accept the particular type of debris. All of the facility databases
in the tool are sociable by state and  EPA region to help users identify the closest facilities.
Users also may enter the latitude and longitude coordinates of the center of the possible
incident area to search for all the disposal facilities within a  user-defined radius (based on
straight-line  distances). Anyone interested in accessing this online tool may request a user name
and password at:

The  EPA recommends that communities  determine  how debris can be tracked during clean-up.
Tracking information is important to determine the  amount of capacity used and available at
various debris management locations, to  pay debris  haulers, and to  determine the total  amount
managed from the disaster.  FEMA also has tracking requirements for reimbursement.  As
contract debris haulers generally are paid on the basis of volume of debris hauled, provisions in
the disaster  debris management plan could be made for measuring truck carrying capacity and
assigning each truck a number before the truck is allowed to collect debris.  The assigned truck
number allows for tracking debris amounts by individual truck. Each truck would be monitored
at the receiving facility for the volume that they carry. The hauler receives payment based on
the sum of these volume amounts.  Haulers should be advised that vegetative debris be laid flat
in the truck  bed. FEMA's Debris Management Guide provides examples of tracking forms

2.2.4  Pre-select Debris Management Sites

One of the most common suggestions for better debris management from communities that
have experienced natural disasters is to pre-select temporary sites that can be used for the
storing, sorting, and processing of debris. Hurricanes or ice storms, for example, can generate
much more vegetative debris than a  municipality typically manages annually.  Identifying  ample
space to stage, store, and process debris  can be a challenge. Sites selected in the past have
included disposal facilities, local parks, or closed industrial/military facilities. These sites can be
used to temporarily store debris before transferring it to another facility, or they can be used
to process debris on site. Conveniently located sites can reduce travel time when transferring
debris to processing or management facilities and result in  expedited debris clean-up.
Communities also can use these sites to distribute reusable or recycled products (such as free
mulch or wood) to the  public.  According to FEMA, experience  has shown that  100 acres of
land  are needed to process one million cubic yards of debris.  Figure 2 depicts an example of a
100-acre debris management site that primarily manages nonhazardous debris.  The site also
includes a location for any hazardous materials  (marked "HW").  Hazardous materials may be
delivered to  this  location by mistake or included with other non-hazardous materials, which is

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
likely to occur as affected citizens may be confused about how to categorize their waste or
where they should take it.  Information about a hazardous waste bulking site used in Louisiana
after Hurricane Katrina can be found in Appendix B.

                   Figure 2.  Example of a Debris Management Site
                                             ENTIRE SITE = 100 ACRES
                                           Construction & Demolition (C&D)
                                            Adequate Turnaround IXimptagAiM
                                      Vegetative Debris
                                    Air Curtain Incinerators
                                     f 15'	20'
\ 300' Exclusion /
  fc     *«       f
Source: FEMA, 2007
Select a site considering its planned activities, such as storing, sorting, or processing of debris.
Consider access by heavy equipment, protection of environmentally sensitive areas, and
logistical efficiency.  Investigate possible impacts on adjacent housing, because sites  can attract
vectors such as rodents and other pests, produce noise and odors at levels deemed
unacceptable by residents, or put a large burden on normal traffic patterns.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
  Protect Human Health and the Environment When Selecting Temporary Debris
                                  Management Sites

  Sites should:

     •   Be sufficient in size with appropriate topography and soil type (work with state/local
        environmental agencies to determine appropriate topography and soil type).
     •   Be located an appropriate distance from potable water wells and rivers, lakes, and
        streams (work with state/local environmental agencies to determine appropriate
        setback distances).
     •   Not be located in a floodplain or wetland.
     •   Have controls in place to mitigate storm water runoff, erosion, fires and dust.
     •   Be free from obstructions, such as power lines and pipelines.
     •   Have limited access with only certain areas open to the public, such as areas to drop
        off debris.
     •   Be located close to the impacted area,  but far enough away from residences,
        infrastructure, and businesses that could be affected by site operations.
     •   Preferably be on public lands because approval for this use is generally easier to
        obtain, but could also be located on  private lands.  Private lands may be convenient
        and logistically necessary for temporary debris storage sites. Consider potential
        agreements with private land owners in advance to ensure the use of these needed
The condition of these temporary sites could be evaluated and documented prior to use.
Depending on the debris that is to be staged there, it may be advisable to assess the soil,
groundwater and/or surface water at a proposed staging area prior to receiving debris to
establish pre-existing conditions.  Communities need to work with state officials to ensure that
the staging sites do not affect drinking water sources, such as groundwater or surface water
reservoirs. The government agencies involved may be responsible for returning these sites to
their original condition. Therefore, guidelines could be established for the return of property to
the owners.   General environmental, safety, and logistical considerations include:

       •  Environmental monitoring. Areas that were used to stage vegetative debris do not
          typically require groundwater monitoring, but should be monitored for fires.  Areas
          used to stage mixed, C&D, or hazardous wastes may need more extensive
          monitoring.  Consult with state officials for recommendations.
       •  Removal of debris from the site  in a timely manner. Putrescible, mixed, harmful, and
          hazardous wastes should not be stored for extended periods of time. These types of
          debris should be removed daily or as soon as practical to  prevent odors, vectors,
          human health hazards, and/or environmental releases.
       •  Limiting site access to ensure that the site is secure.  Some wastes that present
          higher levels of concern should have additional storage controls and  security

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
       •  Evaluating traffic logistics on and around the storage site.
       •  Minimizing noise disruptions to acceptable hours.

Consider the following safeguards for hazardous waste bulking sites:

       •  Area to be used should be covered with two layers of plastic sheeting, tarps, or a
          concrete pad.
       •  Fence off area with T-posts and orange barricade fencing.
       •  Surround fenced off area with absorbent booms (to absorb any potential leaks) or
          sandbags (to prevent spills from seeping into the ground).
       •  Use (wooden) pallets to raise collection bins off the ground  (to ascertain potential
       •  Provide adequate space for walking/carrying items between pallets.
       •  Segregate containerized gases,  liquids, or solids by material type (e.g. corrosive
          wastes, reactive wastes), place each material type in a separate bin or barrel, and
          label the bin or barrel appropriately.
       •  Cover collection bins or barrels with plastic liners/lids or cover the entire hazardous
          waste collection site with a tent to prevent water collecting in bins.
       •  Cylinders  containing compressed gas should be placed upright with cap on and
          secured in  place.
       •  Provide sufficient fire extinguishers for the site in case fire breaks out; four fire
          extinguishers per 10,000 square feet are recommended, placed at the corners or in
          easily accessible locations.

If residents will be asked to bring debris to collection sites, a community should identify those
locations in its pre-incident communication plan. This information needs to be immediately
available to the public, especially when electrical outages impede direct communication. Also,
plan for sufficient staffing for these sites and consider establishing hours of operation that
accommodate the residents. Many communities have found  that much  residential debris
cleanup takes place on weekends or after normal business hours.

2.2.5  Identify Equipment and Administrative  Needs

When drafting a disaster management plan, a planner should identify in advance the types of
equipment and supplies needed to implement the plan. This means equipment for
administrative staff as well as debris collectors.  A list of possible equipment needs is provided
below.  If a large number of vehicles and fuel-dependent equipment is needed, consider possible
implications from a fuel shortage due to the disaster.  Potable water supplies should be well
stocked during hurricane or flood season.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) produced a Hurricane eMatrix
( to provide recommendations on how
to keep workers safe during the management of disaster debris.  The eMatrix identifies types of
necessary personal protective equipment and operational considerations. While the Hurricane
eMatrix was designed  for use after a hurricane, much of the recommendations can apply to the
management of debris generated from other natural  disasters.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
                             Example Equipment Needs

 Equipment needs can be separated into three priorities:

 Primary - needed for initial response:
     Safety items/personal protective equipment (first aid kits, safety vests, work gloves, etc.)
     Barrier tape or fencing
     Debris/earth moving equipment, such as skid-steer loaders, front loaders, and excavators
     Dump trucks and roll-off trucks
     Flags, small and brightly colored
     Handheld GPS units to record locations of materials such as hazardous wastes
     Handheld radios, cell phones, satellite phones, and/or wireless handheld devices
     Notebooks and cameras
     Road signs to direct debris hauler traffic
     Vehicle repair equipment

 Secondary- may be needed to begin debris processing:
     Air monitoring equipment
     Cranes with cables and  magnets
     Dumpsters and hoppers
     Knuckle boom pickers (elevated work platforms)
     Jack hammers
     Jaw crushers and/or compactors
     Plastic sheeting
     Scalable plastic drums
     Wood grinders

 Tertiary- sometimes needed to  process large volumes:
     Air curtain incinerators
     Vibrating screen  sorters
In the aftermath of a natural disaster, communities need to be ready to handle an increased
number of telephone calls and requests concerning debris removal and management.
Communities also might need more staff to train and monitor debris collection contractors and

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
help troubleshoot problems. Debris management sites may require additional staff to ensure
that wastes are being managed appropriately. Therefore, communities could consider cross-
training their existing staff to carry out several responsibilities related to disaster response and
identify sources of temporary labor.  Staffing that is needed in order to meet recordkeeping
requirements for reimbursement of disaster debris management costs should be considered.
Some states reimburse some costs even if the disaster does not qualify for federal
reimbursement funds. Discuss recordkeeping requirements with the  state emergency planning
agency. Recordkeeping is often required from the very beginning until the end of debris
removal and disposition. A community, particularly if it is small, might benefit from identifying,
in advance, people or other communities who have experience in obtaining reimbursement.

A community might consider using pre-negotiated contracts for additional services that the
community does not have the capacity to provide for itself. Solicitations could include services
for debris removal, storage, sorting, recycling, processing, marketing, and disposal.  Pre-
negotiated contracts may help get better prices than  what might be offered after the  natural
disaster has occurred. They may also allow for any legal issues to be addressed in advance.
Additionally, debris management can commence more quickly than if contract negotiations are
necessary after the natural disaster.  Back-up copies of the documentation should be  kept in an
alternate location in case one location  is destroyed in the disaster. If  pre-negotiated contracts
are not feasible, consider including in the disaster debris management plan a list of pre-qualified
contractors to solicit bids from directly after the disaster.  Contractors excluded from federal
contracts are listed at the U.S. General Services Administration's Excluded Parties List System
website (  FEMA reimbursement policies should  be reviewed to ensure
that the terms of the solicitation meet FEMA and state requirements in the event that the
disaster qualifies for federal or state reimbursement.  FEMA requires pre-event contracts and
pre-qualification of contractors.  For more information of FEMA's Public Assistance Grant
Program, visit FEMA's website (

Plans could also be made for the quick procurement  of staffing and equipment needs  through
mutual aid agreements.  Mutual aid agreements may allow the equipment,  services,  and expense
burden to be shared. As other communities  may have equipment that they are willing to share,
consider contacting other local governments  in advance for equipment mutual aid agreements.
Also consider contacting relevant state agencies to discuss their resources and available
financial aid.

2.2.6  Develop a Communication Plan

A communication plan is recommended as part of the disaster debris  management  plan.  During
recovery, a community will have to communicate with the debris management team,  other
governmental agencies, local major commercial and industrial enterprises,  residential  waste
haulers, and the general  public regarding the debris removal process.  The EPA suggests that a
communication plan discuss what information will need to be provided and how such
communication should happen effectively.

The debris management team could consist of administrative personnel  in  charge of debris
clean-up, fleet managers, contractors who have been  hired to carry out the collection efforts,
and debris management facility operators. As with all teams, there should be clear descriptions

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
about how decisions will be made and by whom. The chain-of-command, as well as how
decisions will be communicated through the chain,  need to be clearly articulated.  Instructions
should be communicated in all languages that the debris team uses to ensure proper debris
management. The disaster debris management plan should be distributed to the team to
ensure that the plan can be  implemented quickly and smoothly.  Hardcopies might be
distributed in addition to electronic versions in the event computers are not accessible after
the disaster. To the extent possible, the debris management team should be familiar with the
disaster debris management plan ahead of the disaster.  In order to communicate  events and
problems that may arise, frequent meetings should  be held after the disaster to discuss how to
overcome problems and prevent similar ones from occurring.  Other communication methods
should be addressed, such as cell phones, satellite phones, and hand-held radios.

It is advisable that there be an effective communication  mechanism with other pertinent
government agencies about debris removal.  That is, establish a reliable method to
communicate with police, health officials, and other emergency responders to make sure that
debris is collected in a manner protective of public  safety.  In addition to local agencies, it is
suggested that the disaster debris management plan be filed with the state.  Especially when
regional solid waste services or facilities are involved, a  copy should also be provided to
neighboring communities. Sharing the plan with other communities and the state  will ensure
that the plan is readily accessible post-disaster and that  all affected communities can coordinate
in the clean-up process.

It is also advisable to establish a communication strategy with major industrial and commercial
enterprises in the area that  may generate large amounts of wastes.  This communication
strategy could include contact information,  physical location, and a list of hazardous and non-
hazardous wastes that could be generated.  These companies should have an established
disaster response plan, including how they will communicate any issues with the local
government and/or the general public.

Informing the public about debris management before disaster strikes should make dealing with
the aftermath easier.  Many communities that have  experienced disasters commented that
residents typically want debris to be removed as quickly as possible. Some residents may
resort to illegal burning, dumping, and other improper management methods.  Providing public
education before and after the disaster can  curb this response. It is recommended that
government officials inform  the community when, where, and how debris collection will
commence, when normal collection is likely to resume,  and provide special instructions for
reporting and separating disaster debris at the curb. As part of their emergency plans, some
communities have prepared:

       •  radio and television announcements,
       •  flyers and door hangers,
       •  telephone hotlines, and
       •  websites.

To be as useful as possible, all communication should be timely, consistent, updated, and use
language that is not overly technical. Discuss the use of free public service  advertising with

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
local media companies to communicate instructions in the event of a natural disaster.
Depending on the type and severity of the natural disaster, however, a community might lose
electricity, telephone service, radio broadcasting capability, or newspaper service.
Communities, therefore, are encouraged to prepare more than one method of communication.
Examples of flyers used following Hurricane Katrina are presented in Appendix B.

                           Communicating with the Public

  Marc Bruner, the Director of Environmental Programs for SWA in Palm Beach  County,
  Florida, has a great deal of experience in managing disaster debris. He believes  that properly
  informing the community is one of the most important elements to planning for disaster
  debris.  "Everyone wanted their streets cleared as soon  as possible," Bruner said after
  Hurricanes Frances  and Jeanne. "But our message was consistent; be patient and our crews
  will be there."

  Mark Triplett, the Acting Director of Solid Waste Management for Escambia County,
  Florida, stated that the lack of a public awareness campaign was  an obvious flaw in the
  county's preparation.  Of the clean-up process during Hurricane Ivan, he said, "One of the
  biggest problems that the County faced was the public outcry for debris to be picked up
  sooner rather than  later because citizens did not fully understand the clean-up process."
Consider placing the disaster debris management plan on the internet and seeking public
comment. Allowing the public to review the document and understand how debris
management will occur before a natural disaster can provide time for discussion and revisions
to the plan based on public concerns. Public opposition  may be mitigated if citizens understand
where and how the debris will be managed ahead of time.  An internet site that addresses
disaster debris management may also provide direction on how and where the debris will be
collected.  As an example, the City of St. Petersburg, Florida provides debris collection
information on their website: (
Additionally, Charlotte County,  Florida provides debris preventative advice and instructions on
their website:

2.2.7  Create a Disaster Debris Prevention Strategy

Disaster debris  prevention should  be considered in a disaster debris management plan.  While
total prevention may not  be possible, some measures can be taken to help reduce the
generation of disaster  debris.  These strategies include an education outreach program to
educate the public on  how they  may decrease the amount of damage that their property might
suffer in a natural disaster. A  building code and planning evaluation may be prudent by local
officials to determine if the current codes and planning maps will allow the community to
withstand  disasters prone to that area.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Many states and communities have compiled Hazard Mitigation Plans that discuss preventative
measures aimed at reducing the generation of disaster debris. These plans have been
developed as a result of planning actions and working partnerships between all levels of
government within a state. The result of these mitigation plans is an understanding of the risks
communities face from natural and manmade hazards and the best ways to reduce or eliminate
the potential for loss of life, property damage, and disruption of economic activities. Mitigation
activities can be short-term or long-term actions designed to reduce or prevent the generation
of debris that may arise as a result of a natural or manmade hazard. Examples of actions these
mitigation  plans identify are I) educating home owners about how to strengthen their homes to
resist damage from hurricane-force winds and 2) constructing large scale public works projects,
such as a levee that limits the extent of flooding.  As of May 3 1, 2007, all 50 States, the District
of Columbia, 7 Territories and  36 Tribal governments had approved State Mitigation Plans, and
over 14,000 local jurisdictions currently had approved (or approvals pending adoption) Local
Mitigation  Plans that cover approximately 59% of the nation's population.  More information
about hazard mitigation plans can be found at FEMA's website

Hurricanes often generate a large amount of vegetative debris that can cause additional
damage. Falling branches, uprooted trees, and flying vegetation can cause destruction to
homes, buildings, power lines, pipelines, and other infrastructure.  Residents could be advised
to trim back trees on their property and remove dead or diseased trees.  Likewise,  utility
crews could trim back vegetation around power  lines and remove trees that may interfere with
important power and pipe lines. Outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture and grills, can
become projectiles and should be brought inside or secured outside using ground anchors or
straps.  The State of Florida has produced guidance (  to help the
public prepare their homes for hurricanes. Advice is given on what to do for roofs, windows
and doors, screen enclosures, attic vents and other openings, home structure, the surrounding
environment, and other features of a  house.  FEMA has also produced a homeowner's checklist
for avoiding hurricane damage (

Earthquakes can  shake buildings and attachments to the point that they become structurally
unsound.  Some measures can be taken to prevent some of the damage and resulting debris.
California  recommends that houses be anchored to their foundations to help prevent them
from moving, which otherwise could result in lifting and  placing the houses back on their
foundation or the total demolition of the houses.  Bracing hot water heaters can prevent them
from toppling and rupturing gas lines, causing fire damage.  Strengthening weak walls,
foundations and chimneys can prevent horizontal movement of homes and subsequent damage.
The State  of California  produced guides for the public, Homeowner's Guide to Earthquake Safety
and Commercial Property Owner's Guide to Earthquake Safety. These guides and other  localized
recommendations can be found at the California  Seismic Safety Commission's website
(  FEMA has produced several publications about preventing
destruction to buildings, such as Homebuilder's Guide to Earthquake Resistant Design and
Construction and Earthquake Safety Guide for Homeowners

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Flood waters and the objects they displace and transport can cause a great amount of damage.
Outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture and grills, could be brought inside or secured
outside using ground anchors or straps.  Debris from culverts, streams and channels could be
removed to allow floodwaters to flow freely. FEMA and the American Red Cross have
produced flyers for flood damage prevention. These can be found at and

Wildfires can destroy homes and property.  Fire-safe landscaping, protective shutters, fire
resistant roof materials, such  as metal  roofs, and regular maintenance to remove built-up
vegetative matter from buildings and surrounding landscaping can help minimize damage from a
wildfire.  Public information sheets are available on FEMA's website
( and on the American Red Cross'
website ( 123.pdf).

Winter Snow and Ice Storms can cause a great amount of damage. Trimming back trees
and removing dead trees and  branches can reduce  the amount of vegetative debris generated
and help reduce power outages. FEMA provides advice on their website

Volcanoes create ash and molten lava debris. Working with local governments to support
land-use and building ordinances that restrict construction  in volcanic areas can help to reduce
debris generated as a result of a volcano.


It is recommended that  debris removal begin as soon as it is safe for personnel to be out in the
community. An initial activity  will likely be the clearing of roadways and ensuring that
emergency vehicles can travel effectively.  Following the initial clearing, there should be a plan
for collection priorities. The  debris removal strategy should discuss how each type of debris
should be segregated  (where  applicable), collected, and managed. Debris that may pose an
immediate threat to human health and the environment should be a first priority in collection.
Following that, the strategy should discuss materials that are priorities for recycling or reuse.
While recycling should be pursued to the extent possible, it is likely that many materials will be
disposed. Ensuring that the debris is removed in a timely fashion is important to protect the
safety of the community and to  return the community back to normal.


During the course of a natural disaster, materials are generated that have the potential to harm
human health or the environment. Examples of materials gathered during previous natural
disasters and handled as hazardous wastes include automotive/marine  batteries, pesticide
containers, explosives, automotive oils, fuels and fluids, solvents, paint thinners and  strippers,
and compressed gas containers.  Separating these materials into appropriate categories
prevents incompatible materials from reacting. A plan for controlling and diverting hazardous


Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
materials from the debris stream, including handling procedures, helps avoid the release of
hazardous constituents into the environment.  Waste handlers should be trained to minimize
releases. At a hazardous waste bulking site, safeguards should be implemented to prevent
releases (see Section 2.2.4). An example of a household hazardous waste bulking center used
during the Hurricane Katrina clean-up in Orleans Parish is included in Appendix B. Federal or
state officials should be contacted to determine if there are requirements for obtaining an
emergency hazardous waste storage permit or other facility requirements. All state and
federally-regulated hazardous wastes should be managed in  an appropriate hazardous waste
treatment or disposal facility that complies with federal, state and local regulations.

If a release does occur, minimize dispersion and control the release as best as possible. Then
call the state environmental agency and the National Response Center (NRC).  The NRC,
located at U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Headquarters, is the national communications center
continuously manned for handling activities related to response actions. The NRC acts as a
single point of contact for all pollution  incident reporting and as the National Response Team
communications center. The center is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at (800) 424-
8802. For more information on the federal regulations that apply to hazardous waste
management, please visit (

Household items that display one or more of the following  characteristics - ignitability,
corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity - are  known  as household hazardous wastes (HHW).
Examples include motor oil, automobile batteries, paints and solvents, household cleaners and
drain openers, swimming pool chemicals, pesticides, and compressed  gas tanks (such as propane
and oxygen).  EPA advises that these types of debris be segregated for special handling. For
example, residents could be directed to bring  HHW to a specified location or collection event.
Additionally, residents could be informed to set HHW at the curb for special collections of
these materials. Residents should be advised not to commingle HHW with other debris or
dispose  of these substances with their normal  MSW collection. A sample flyer that was used to
inform the  public of HHW handling after Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana is included in  Appendix

Asbestos-containing material (ACM), such as asbestos pipe wrap, siding, ceiling tiles, and
other building  materials, may be found  in structures. Planners should be aware that there are
regulations that govern the removal (where necessary) and  management of ACM from
structures affected by a natural disaster.  These regulations  may affect the
demolition/deconstruction of buildings and subsequent debris  removal.  Planners should
consider, as part of their planning activities, how to handle such situations and how to best
advise the public.  To the extent that demolition or renovation activities are necessary in
connection with any such facility, the requirements of the asbestos regulations under the
National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) may be applicable (40
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 61, Subpart M). This  document does not address in
detail the asbestos NESHAP requirements that apply to buildings/residences that remain
standing or are partially standing and require further demolition.  It also does not address
debris management from renovations of buildings/residences.  Regulated asbestos containing
material must be removed prior to demolition under the  supervision  of a person trained in
accordance with the regulations.  The material must be adequately wetted throughout the

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
process and disposed of properly, which includes labeling, transportation requirements, tracking
the waste, recordkeeping, and disposal in a landfill that meets specific NESHAP requirements
for disposal. In some instances, individual states have promulgated their own asbestos
regulations and are authorized to take the lead in implementing and enforcing them. To the
extent that an  entity is dealing with debris from structures already demolished by a natural
disaster (as opposed to human demolition), the requirements of the asbestos NESHAP (or the
state equivalent) may not be applicable.  If there is any question as to the applicability of the
asbestos regulations, contact and coordinate with the appropriate local, state, and federal
authorities.  No materials suspected to contain asbestos should be ground or incinerated at
debris  management sites (40 CFR 6l.l45(c)(IO)). The material can be disposed and many MSW
and C&D landfills have handling procedures for these materials.  Contact the state or landfill for
guidance.  Additional information, including EPA and state contacts, can be found at:
( and
Planners should also be aware that in  past disaster recovery efforts, communities were able to
secure "No Action Assurance (NAA)" letters from the EPA to allow for more regulatory
flexibility in removing damaged structures that may contain asbestos in times of extreme
hardship.  These NAA letters allow the demolition of entire structures without first removing
ACM, but the entire structure must then be managed as ACM. Planners should assess the
possibility of hardship due to the  amount of ACM that could be produced from a natural
disaster in their area and determine the steps that would be needed to secure an NAA letter
quickly. Examples of NAA letters issued during the Hurricane Katrina recovery can be found at
( Guidance given by
the EPA regarding asbestos management during that recovery effort can be found at:

PCBs  may be  located in transformers attached to downed utility poles. Debris management
personnel should notify the local  electric utility if a downed pole is encountered. If a
transformer appears to be leaking and does not have a sticker declaring that it is PCB-free,
personnel should immediately notify the regional EPA office and the electric utility, as well as,
restrict public access to the area  using temporary fencing or barrier tape.  In the absence of
identifying information, it is best to assume a transformer contains PCBs. PCB clean-up is
subject to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) regulations (40 CFR 700-789).
Information about the management of PCB wastes can be found on EPA's website
(  This website features lists of facilities that can both store and
dispose PCB wastes.

Storage tanks, both those above ground and underground, potentially could release
petroleum or hazardous substances and pose significant risk to health, safety, and the
environment. Storage tanks always should be addressed with care.  If, for example, gasoline
pumps or vent pipes are present  near a damaged building, or if an unknown tank or  cylinder is
discovered, debris collection activities should be stopped, the area sealed off, and the state
environmental agency should be contacted for assistance.  Additional information can be found
from the EPA's Office of Underground Storage Tanks website (

Firearms and ammunition kept in the home can be part of the disaster debris stream if
homes are affected. Prompt collection of these items is  important to ensure the safety of the

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
public. Coordination with local and state law enforcement is important to determine what
entity will collect this debris, how it will be collected, and how it will be managed.


EPA recommends that any disaster debris management plan include a strategy for reuse,
recycling, and mulching/composting.  Due to the potentially large volumes of material produced
in a natural disaster, recycling and reuse will lessen the burden on  disposal facilities, cut costs,
and provide a valuable material resource. Recycling conserves natural resources by replacing
them with recovered products that perform the same function. Reuse and recycling (including
mulching/composting), coupled with efficient processing and transportation, not only conserves
natural resources but also helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and saves
landfill space.

EPA also recommends that disaster debris  management plans set priorities for reusing and
recycling disaster debris materials. Innovative reuse options can be identified in advance rather
than trying to find appropriate options after the disaster occurs. These priorities and options
should be detailed in a community's disaster debris management plan and pre-negotiated
contracts.  It is advisable to coordinate with FEMA on these priorities during the planning stage
before a disaster to help ensure reimbursement.

Implementing a plan for reuse and recycling disaster debris is much easier if a community
already has a reuse and recycling program in place.  Many of the permitting, compliance,
collection, processing, and marketing issues will have been largely resolved before the disaster
strikes. With a recycling program in place, the community will  need only to expand current
recycling practices after the disaster, rather than design and implement new practices.  This is
not to suggest that recycling  opportunities  cannot be created.  For example, San Diego County,
California created several recycling operations after the 2003 wildfires (see Appendix A).
Processing may be necessary to turn the material into a usable product.  Processing can occur
at a recycling facility or a debris management site. Certain materials should not be ground or
burned,  however, and should be removed from the waste stream before doing so.

Many of the materials generated by natural disasters are recyclable and can be utilized.  Local
governments should identify  available recycling markets for debris materials. Inventories of
existing  local recyclers of scrap metal, white goods, mixed C&D materials, land clearing debris,
concrete, asphalt pavement,  hazardous waste, HHW, and electronics could be made.
Arrangements to use their services should  be in  place in the event of a disaster and be
described in the disaster debris management plan.  EPA also recommends that planners identify
the sites where recycling will occur, any equipment needed, how to process the material
according to market specifications, as well as consider transportation distances. Transporting
some materials long distances may make recycling too costly, both economically and
environmentally.  The further a material must be moved, the more it will cost  and the more
fuel will  be burned to move it there. Due to the large amounts of debris produced after major
natural disasters, provisions may  be needed for storing the material for an extended time
before transport and recycling can occur. For some debris materials (e.g. HHW), however,
regulations may restrict how long such materials can be stored. Check with state
environmental representatives for such restrictions. Planners should also check with state


Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
representatives to understand if there are any additional requirements pertaining to the reuse
of building materials.

Building materials, normally part of the C&D materials stream, are generated by the total or
partial destruction of structures during disasters and can  represent a large portion of disaster
debris.  Re-building following a natural disaster also can lead to a surge in generation of
discarded building materials. These materials often include bulky, heavy  materials that include
masonry materials, such as bricks and blocks, and concrete which can be crushed into aggregate
and reused in road reconstruction or as fill. Additional information about recycling concrete
can be found at  Lumber and other wood products can be
directly reused or ground and used for boiler fuel, mulch, and engineered lumber. Care should
be taken to separate lead-based paint coated wood and chemically-treated lumber from other
"clean" wood for recycling markets, to the extent possible.  Pests, such as Formosan  termites,
Asian Borers, or Ash Borers, may restrict the shipment of wood materials to other
geographical areas.  Consult with the state agricultural department for guidance on pests of
concern in a specific geographical area. Lead-based paint (LBP) should be removed from
wood meant to be recycled as  mulch or composted.  Lead-based paint was banned from
housing in 1978, but may continue to exist in older housing. Asphalt shingles can be recycled
into new asphalt pavement mixes. They also can serve two  purposes at a cement kiln:
combustion  of the shingles provides energy in the  kiln and the remaining mineral components,
containing the limestone granules, serve as a raw material for cement. Information about
recycling asphalt shingles can be found at  Gypsum drywall can
be recycled into new drywall, cement, and agricultural uses.  More information about recycling
drywall can be found at  Metal is almost always recycled back
into other metal products and recycling opportunities are available in virtually every area
around the country.  More information can be found at the Institute  of Scrap Recycling
Industries' website ( or the Steel Recycling Institute's website
(  Lists of C&D materials recyclers and  reuse stores can be found
at the Construction Materials Recycling Association's website ( the
Building Materials Reuse Association's (BMRA) website ( and the
Whole Building Design Guide website ( Many state and
community environmental protection agencies also keep  lists of C&D materials recyclers. The
Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) keeps a
webpage that links to the state solid waste websites
(  The Construction Industry
Compliance Assistance Center also provides information on C&D materials recycling in various
states ( Deconstruction techniques can be considered for standing
buildings to help ensure that the materials will be segregated and in proper condition  for reuse
or recycling.  More information about deconstruction can be found at the  BMRA website and
the National Demolition Association's website (  The
C&D materials recycling field has witnessed several recent technological advances that make
debris sorting and recycling more feasible.  For example,  portable hydraulic grinders are now
available that can handle wooden framing material, gypsum drywall, block, and brick at the job
site. New screening systems also have been developed to facilitate and expedite sorting.  Slow-
speed, high-torque shredders that reduce noise, dust, and vibration are being utilized  to shred

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
mixed bulky materials.  More information about C&D materials recycling can be found at the
EPA's C&D materials website (

Road and bridge materials, also normally part of the C&D materials stream, can be
generated when roads and bridges are washed out or collapsed during disasters. Road and
bridge materials typically consist of large amounts of asphalt pavement, concrete, and steel. All
of these materials are frequently recycled in normal settings and recycling opportunities can
usually be readily found. As discussed in the building materials section, lists of C&D materials
recyclers can be found on many websites. The Asphalt Recycling and Reclaiming Association
can also provide information ( More information about C&D materials
recycling can be found at the EPA's C&D materials website. The U.S. Department of
Transportation's (DOT) Federal Highway Adminstration (FHWA) can also provide assistance

Vegetative debris (or green waste) consists of uprooted trees, broken tree limbs, stumps,
brush, and leaves. This debris can be ground and used as mulch for residential, commercial, or
agricultural areas, for producing compost, as landfill cover, and for boiler fuel. Whole trees,
from both rural and urban areas, could also be used as a timber resource. Trees could be de-
limbed at storage  sites prior to transporting them to end-users, such as sawmills, veneer or
panel makers, pulp and  paper mills, wood pellet mills, furniture makers, specialty wood
companies, and engineered wood companies.  Pre-negotiated contracts may provide some
revenue or cost-free labor for the community where wood companies are able to recover large
amounts of undamaged logs or specialty companies are capable of recovering large diameter or
high value logs.  Vegetative debris typically can be ground into mulch and reused.  If the quantity
of mulch exceeds  typical usage, local planners may  be able to identify large-scale landscaping
opportunities that may be able  to use the material, such as landscaping in parks and recreation
areas, along roadsides or railways, amusement parks, military installations, in efforts to reclaim
brownfields, or at temporary debris storage sites.  Visit EPA's GreenScapes website for
information on large-scale landscaping opportunities (
Additional information on the management of and the potential end uses of vegetative debris
are available from the US Composting Council ( It is
important to keep vegetative debris segregated from other debris because contamination with
other materials limits the ways in which this debris can be managed.  Contamination can be
limited by using proper handling techniques. Pests, such as Formosan termites or citrus canker,
may restrict the shipment of these materials to other geographical areas.  Consult with the
state agricultural department for guidance on pests of concern in a specific geographical  area.

Treated wood should be handled separately  from vegetative debris being recycled.  Besides
wooden utility poles, other lumber that may be chemically-treated includes decks, fences,
landscaping materials, wood bridges, and railroad ties. Treated wood contains chemical
preservatives that can contaminate recycled wood  products. These woods can be combusted
in waste-to-energy facilities, provided the facilities comply with existing federal, state and local
requirements, but they should not be "open burned" in piles, in order to prevent adverse
impacts to human health from inhalation and to the environment.  More information about
treated wood can be found at:

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Automobiles and Boats may be ruined by many types of disasters. They are typically
recycled under normal circumstances, so recycling opportunities are likely to exist.  Vehicles
may have title and ownership issues before they can be scrapped.  All fluids should be drained
and managed appropriately.  Batteries, tires, gas tanks, airbags, and mercury switches should be
removed and managed appropriately.  More information can be  found from the Automotive
Recyclers Association (

White goods are household appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers, and
hot water heaters. These items can be segregated for recycling. Refrigerators and freezers
require special attention because they may contain putrescible wastes, refrigerants, and
capacitors containing PCBs.  Refrigerant-containing appliances (RCAs), including refrigerators,
freezers,  and window air conditioner units, should be handled by EPA-certified refrigeration
technicians or recycling centers to prevent releases. The recycler must certify to EPA that
certain standards are being met.  Verify that the recyclers are meeting these requirements by
asking them to provide a copy of the certification they have sent to EPA.  EPA maintains a
current list of approved  refrigerant recyclers. Confirm the approval status of an RCA recycler
by contacting EPA's Ozone Protection  Hotline (800-296-1996) or by accessing EPA's Office of
Air and Radiation  Stratospheric Protection Division web page
(  More information about safe
federal disposal procedures for household appliances that use refrigerants can be found at:

Putrescible wastes (including animal carcasses) rot  or decay quickly and should be
segregated accordingly and quickly managed. This debris category  includes fruits, vegetables,
meats,  dairy products and other produce from grocery stores, restaurants, schools, hospitals,
and residences. It can also include animal  carcasses. Some putrescible wastes can be
composted or rendered. More information about composting food and other putrescible
wastes can be found at the EPA's Food Waste Recovery Hierarchy website
( Information on rendering can be
found on the National Renderers Association website  ( For
additional help on proper management of animal carcasses after a  disaster, consult the state's
department of agriculture or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA provides
leadership, technical expertise, and assistance for the management of animal carcasses. The
USDA  has produced "Disaster Planning," technical assistance on how to prepare for a disaster
(  Kansas State University, Purdue
University, and Texas A&M University produced "Carcass  Disposal: A Comprehensive Review"
for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)   (http://fss.k-<emid=37). APHIS also maintains
the National Animal Health Emergency Management System  Guidelines, which provide
information that may be integrated into the preparedness plans  of other Federal, State and local
agencies, Tribes, and additional groups involved in animal health  emergency management
activities  ( More information about USDA's assistance
programs can be found in Chapter 4.  The National Association  of State Departments of
Agriculture can provide  contacts and links to state agriculture departments

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Sediment accumulations occur when wind or water displaces sand, silt, or soils that could be
removed as part of the cleanup. Sediments suspected to be contaminated should be tested for
contaminants and screened to remove other debris. If not contaminated, they can be returned
to their original location, used as fill in reconstruction projects, or used as cover material in

Electronics waste can be generated by any type of natural disaster and include televisions,
desktop and laptop computers, computer attachments, stereo equipment, and cell phones.
Computer monitors and older TV picture tubes contain an average of four pounds of lead and
may require special handling. Some states have specific regulations for handling TVs and
monitors. In addition to lead, electronics can contain chromium, cadmium, mercury, beryllium,
nickel, zinc, and brominated flame  retardants.  Many organizations accept electronics for reuse.
Electronics that are too damaged to be repaired and reused should be  recycled. The Electronic
Industries Alliance has a database of electronics recyclers on its website (

Disaster Debris Recycling In Action

EARTHQUAKE  Spurred by the Northridge earthquake in  1994, Los Angeles officials
declared recycling as a priority and expanded the City's recycling capability with the support of
FEMA and local businesses.  C&D materials made up a large fraction of the debris.  The City
developed contracts with existing businesses, provided them with source-separated materials,
and piloted a project to recycle mixed debris.  After only one year, Los Angeles created more
than 10,000 tons per day of privately operated processing capacity for  C&D materials.  By the
end of the cleanup, the City recycled 56% of all of the materials collected since  the earthquake
for less than the cost of disposal in landfills.

FLOOD  In October 2005, the western part of the State of New Hampshire was subjected to
intense flooding and damage. The  Town of Alstead received approximately 12 inches of rainfall
in a 30-hour period. After the flooding, materials were sorted  into separate piles of tires,
wood, cars, metal, and trees. Trees were shredded into wood chips and topsoil was recovered
by screening some of the woody debris.

HURRICANE   In the aftermath  of the 2004  hurricane season, Seminole County, Florida,
processed more vegetative debris than the total amount processed over the entire previous
decade.   Most of the vegetative debris was wood waste, which the County ground into mulch.
The County used 360 tons of the ground mulch to establish temporary debris storage and
processing site. The mulch was used as a good road base for heavy machinery and vehicles
because the ground was saturated.

TORNADO  On May 3, 1999, 5 I tornadoes struck 18 Oklahoma counties generating an
estimated 1.6 million cubic yards of debris, or enough to fill a football field five stories high.
USAGE  and Oklahoma  state officials estimated that every one million cubic yards of debris
would reduce a landfill's life  by five years. In response, Oklahoma designated  recycling as a
priority  in the management of the debris and sorted it into recyclables, mixed debris, vegetative
debris, and  HHW. Only the mixed debris and  HHW were disposed.  EPA  assisted in managing
HHW and selecting the appropriate landfills for its disposal.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
WILDFIRE   Los Alamos County, New Mexico, endured the Cerro Grande wildfire in May
2000. The fire consumed more than 47,000 acres and destroyed more than 400 residential and
commercial structures. Of the  162,000 cubic yards of debris generated, approximately 95% of it
was reused or recycled. Solid waste officials excavated and crushed building foundations and
retaining walls into a reusable aggregate and stockpiled it for use on future road construction
projects. They also chipped burned trees and other vegetative waste for use as mulch at a local
golf course that was under construction. The County also segregated all metal and delivered it
to local scrap yards.

WINTER STORM  In October 1997, the City of Lincoln, Nebraska processed more than
350,000 cubic yards of debris generated from a severe snow and ice storm—seven times the
average annual volume of vegetative debris typically managed by the City. This debris was
chipped into mulch and stockpiled for future use in City landscaping operations. City officials
also contacted a number of nurseries, landscapers,  and cattle operations, which used some of
the material for mulch or animal bedding.


Natural disaster debris may be sent to a waste-to-energy  facility, depending on the types and
amounts of debris present. Typical non-hazardous waste-to-energy facilities can  handle many
types of debris, including vegetative debris, C&D materials, furniture and other home contents,
and putrescible wastes. Additional storage capacity may be necessary for this material as
natural disasters often produce more material than a typical combustor can handle.  Since these
facilities often are equipped with air pollution controls, contamination that can pose  a problem
to recycling and composting operations  (such as treated wood) may not be a problem here.
Some waste-to-energy facilities require that the debris be ground prior to receiving  it and this
could be addressed in  any pre-negotiated contracts. The  Integrated Waste Services
Association can provide additional information and assistance locating a waste-to-energy facility

Natural disasters can create large amounts of vegetative debris (the primary biomass produced
from many natural disasters) that could be used as  a fuel or energy source. Using biomass to
create energy instead of disposing it via open  burning or in landfills has both  environmental and
economic  benefits.  Environmental benefits include saving  landfill capacity and reducing air
emissions  (Western Governors' Association 2006;  Jambeck et al. 2007). The Council of
Industrial Boilers can provide additional  information and assist in locating an  industrial boiler
that can take  biomass generated from a  disaster (

Woody biomass is a product of natural disasters, such as  hurricanes and tornadoes.  Most of
this material is left to decay, burned in place or hauled to  landfills.  This woody biomass
represents a potential  source of raw material to produce  small wood products, energy in the
forms of heat, fuel or electricity and other useful products such as mulch or  erosion control
products.  Using woody biomass, instead of wasting or burning it, has numerous economic and
environmental benefits. A Federal interagency woody biomass utilization group  (WBUG),
composed of technical specialists, has a mission of encouraging the use of woody biomass.
Their website ( provides
tools and resources that communities may use to help address biomass utilization.


Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Power plants that accept biomass may exist near communities affected by disasters, so
delivering the materials to power generators instead of landfills may require little extra effort or
cost.  Identifying facilities that can accept vegetative debris can be mutually beneficial to all
parties involved. One obstacle that may exist is that the volume of debris may be much more
than the facility can handle.  Several different methods of materials management might be
needed to effectively deal with very large quantities of material in a timely manner.

One way to evaluate potential biomass markets is to involve the state forestry or natural
resources agency. Some states plan to actively inventory available biomass in forest areas and
strategically manage standing timber to limit vegetative debris in the event of a natural disaster.
These actions can be performed via GIS systems, satellite imagery, and aerial photography.
Using such techniques can allow planners to develop risk maps and scenarios for natural
disaster response. For more information on how biomass can  be used to produce energy, visit
http://www I

                               Recent Biomass Successes

  Florida- Nearly half of the vegetative debris generated by Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and
 Jeanne in  Polk County was used to generate electricity by  Progress Energy. The company's
  Ridge Generating Station  received about 800,000 cubic yards of debris. County officials stated
 that this was  not only the  most environmentally preferable option, but also the most cost

  Louisiana and  Mississippi - Green Energy Resources, a company that provides renewable
 energy, purchased one million tons of vegetative debris from Louisiana and Mississippi in
 September 2005, after Hurricane Katrina. The debris was sent to the United  Kingdom to fulfill
 an annual contract for more than five million tons of wood chips. The  company later
 purchased another one million tons  for use in power plants in the northeastern United States.

 Texas - American Biorefining, an alternative power company in  Nacogdoches salvaged
 millions of tons of shattered trees, branches, and other forest debris left behind by Hurricane
  Rita in 2005. The vegetative debris was shredded into biomass fuel and shipped to various
  European countries to be  used for power generation.

Once reuse, recycling, and waste-to-energy opportunities are exhausted for debris generated
by natural disasters, either due to economics or otherwise not practicable, the remaining debris
should be disposed properly and safely.  Most of the debris generated from natural disasters is
not hazardous and can be disposed, as appropriate, in a C&D landfill, MSW landfill, or non-
hazardous solid waste combustor regulated by a state agency. States are the lead for
implementing and permitting non-hazardous waste disposal options.  MSW landfills have waste
acceptance criteria, siting criteria, operational requirements,  design standards, groundwater
monitoring/clean air regulations, and closure/post-closure standards which ensure protection of

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
human health and the environment. C&D landfills also have waste acceptance criteria, siting
criteria, operational requirements, and design standards. C&D landfill requirements tend to be
less stringent than MSW landfill standards given that the type of debris received by C&D
landfills generally is considered more inert.  It is important to check with state/local
environmental agencies to determine appropriate C&D landfill requirements and to
ensure/prepare for compliance of those requirements when landfill capacity is needed
expeditiously after a disaster.

Monitoring incoming disaster debris is important at disposal facilities due to the large volumes
of debris and the potential for contamination from hazardous wastes and other debris  of
concern. Thus, it is recommended that when a truck enters the staging or disposal areas,
spotters check the load for volume and contaminants not allowed at that site.  Spotters also are
appropriate where the truck tips its load at the disposal site and in the field where debris is
being collected and sorted.  Once any contaminants are removed,  some of the non-hazardous
debris can be ground to reduce its volume and thereby preserve landfill  capacity.

Processing  may be necessary to reduce the volume prior to disposal.  This can be  done at the
landfill  or at a temporary debris management site. Volume reduction can be performed by
grinding the material or burning it. Volume reduction not only lessens the burden on landfill
capacity,  but also means that fewer trucks will  be needed to move the material if the material is
taken to a temporary debris management site or transfer station. Certain materials should not
be ground or burned, however, and should be  removed from the waste stream before doing
so.  These materials are discussed in detail in the previous and following sections.

Mixed debris typically includes a mixture of all types of debris. Due to its diversity, this debris
stream is sometimes too mixed for cost-effective segregation. Hazardous wastes should be
removed prior to disposal so that all the waste need not be managed as hazardous.  Putrescible
wastes should be segregated accordingly and disposed in a MSW landfill. Major components of
mixed debris are usually building materials, vegetative debris, HHW, and home contents, such
as furniture and personal property.  Building materials, normally considered part of the C&D
materials stream, can be disposed in a C&D landfill.  In many states, vegetative debris and home
furnishings  are also allowed to be disposed in a C&D landfill. These materials generally are not
considered  hazardous wastes under federal law and, therefore, are not required to be  disposed
as such.  Similarly, C&D wastes are not considered MSW. C&D landfills are subject to federal
criteria under 40 CFR 257, but many states have additional requirements. One main
component of C&D materials  is drywall (also known as sheetrock or wallboard).  Drywall
consists of  a gypsum core sandwiched between two sheets of paper. Placing drywall in a landfill
may lead to potential hydrogen sulfide (H2S) generation-related concerns. Under anaerobic
conditions that exist in  landfills and in  contact with moisture, drywall decomposition has been
shown to result in H2S generation. Hydrogen sulfide may pose an odor  problem and, in very
large concentrations, may pose a health risk to landfill workers and nearby residents.  A memo
that discusses best management practices at a C&D landfill that generated H2S can be found at
( Drywall  can be
recycled and such opportunities should be investigated pre-disaster. Where drywall cannot  be
recycled, odor mitigation at landfills can be performed by using various cover materials, such as
sand, crushed concrete fines, lime, or  mulch.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris

Open burning includes both burning debris in an open pit and burning debris in an air curtain
incinerator (ACI). The air curtain burning method incorporates a pit constructed by digging
below grade or building above grade (if there is a shallow groundwater table) and a blower.
The blower and pit make up an engineered system which must be precisely configured to
properly function. The blower must have adequate air velocity to provide a "curtain effect" to
hold smoke in and to feed air to the fire below.  The pit configuration must have a precise
width, depth and length to compliment the blower. Some incinerators are portable and utilize
a pre-manufactured pit in lieu of an onsite constructed earth/limestone pit.  Portable ACIs are
the most efficient burning systems available. This is due to the pre-manufactured pit which is
engineered to precise dimensions to complement the blower system. The pre-manufactured
pit requires little or no maintenance as compared to earth or stone constructed pits which are
susceptible to erosion and sluffing.  Portable ACI units are more suitable for areas with shallow
groundwater tables, sandy soils, and where opacity (smoke) must be kept to a minimum.

Open burning often is subject to significant public concern, but state/local officials may allow it
when needed if storage is lacking and debris amounts are large. All open burning should  be
conducted  in accordance with state regulations.  Open burning shall not violate applicable
requirements developed  under a State Implementation Plan (SIP) approved or promulgated by
the Administrator pursuant to Section I  10 under the Clean Air Act (CAA).  Best practices
should be used in opening burning to protect human health and the environment. Typically,
only vegetative debris is burned in an open pit, while both vegetative debris and segregated
clean building material may be burned  in an ACI.  Treated wood and wood coated with lead-
based paint should be removed from the waste stream before open pit burning or ACI.  No
materials suspected to contain asbestos should be burned at debris management sites (40 CFR
61.145(c)( 10)). Communities can contact and coordinate with the appropriate local, state, and
federal authorities if there is any question as to the applicability of the asbestos NESHAP (or
the state equivalent) if ACM is suspected to be present.


In responding to  any natural disaster, being prepared to manage disaster debris is very
important.  Planning ahead of time should help a community achieve its goal of utilizing
environmentally acceptable practices.  Being prepared will help local officials ensure that: I)
hazardous wastes are being properly managed, 2) storage or staging locations have been  sited in
acceptable locations,  3) available landfill capacity is used appropriately and that new debris
management units or closed units that are reopened have appropriate siting restrictions and
controls in  place, and 4)  reuse and  recycling opportunities are used to the fullest extent

The first line of defense for disposal problems is to segregate debris materials and manage them
appropriately. While recycling and reuse is preferred for most debris types, disposal is often a
consideration. Segregating debris is best performed at the original deposited point, such as
through curbside or field separation.  Thus, residents and businesses should be educated and

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
instructed to segregate the debris into appropriate piles where feasible.  Also, debris haulers
should consider collecting the different types of debris separately.  Debris can also be sorted at
the temporary storage site or disposal site.  Making sure that the appropriate debris is managed
at the correct type of facility through separation and spotting can help achieve beneficial
recovery as well as protection of human health and the environment.

Once debris is segregated and recycling occurs, management of the remaining debris needs to
take place. Communities will, in some cases, be able to use existing capacity at debris
management facilities. The use of an existing debris management facility should always be
considered appropriate because existing facilities have been designed with adequate controls as
previously determined by the state agencies.  State solid waste management agencies typically
have requirements for debris management facilities to consider minimization of odors and
disease vectors, to have run-on  and run-off controls, to provide daily cover, to limit access to
the public, to have design standards, to provide for monitoring and to provide for adequate
setbacks.  Setbacks are typically considered for property boundaries, drinking water wells,
surface water bodies, groundwater recharge areas, and public water supplies. In addition to
adequate setbacks, certain locations, such as floodplains, wetlands, and close proximity to
drinking water supplies are typically required to be avoided.

Local officials may want to consider their existing capacity and the potential need to open new
debris  management facilities or open previously closed debris management facilities.   If a
community is faced with limited debris management space, one option is to re-open a closed
debris  management facility. This can be preferable to siting a new debris management facility if
the closed debris management facility was originally engineered to protect the environment and
is located in an area with favorable hydrogeologic conditions. Environmental assessment and
monitoring may be necessary before, during, and after the debris has been placed in the re-
opened debris management facility, as determined by the state/local environmental agency. The
environmental assessment and monitoring are the responsibility of the local government or
other facility owner/operator, working with and obtaining approval from the state/local
environmental agency. Attempting to conduct an assessment after a disaster occurs can  delay
debris  management, increase citizen anxiety, and limit the  extent of the assessment.

A new debris management facility may be necessary if sufficient capacity does not exist and
closed debris management facilities are not an option due  to distance or lack of environmental
protection.  New debris management facilities should be sited in areas with  favorable
hydrogeologic conditions. Environmental assessment and  monitoring may be necessary before,
during, and after the  debris is placed in the new facility, as determined by the state/local
environmental agency. Any new facility sited under emergency circumstances should comply
with applicable state  operational requirements. Focused pre-incident planning and preparation
in regard to potential disaster debris land disposal capacity needs will alleviate much of the
chaos,  confusion and stress of all involved with this issue after a disaster has occurred.

Finally, it is recognized that while recycling and reuse of materials are preferred, it is not always
possible to accomplish this while keeping protection of human health and the environment as a
priority.  Protection of human health and the environment should always take precedence.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
3   State, Local, and Private  Resources Available To  Help

State and local governments are typically the first source of assistance to a community in the
wake of a natural disaster. Many states and communities have prepared or are also preparing
for disasters and are generally willing to share information and resources. Such assistance
typically is available to communities impacted by natural disasters, regardless of whether they
receive a federal disaster declaration.


State emergency management agencies and the  solid waste management programs of state
environmental agencies have specific roles to play in managing disaster debris. The state
emergency management agency serves as the local government's liaison to FEMA during the
disaster and cleanup. The state environmental agency also can make special accommodations
for the extraordinary debris management needs resulting from a natural disaster. State
emergency management and environmental agencies can issue emergency management orders
to help local governments better manage debris in order to protect human health and  the
environment. The National Emergency Management Association can provide state emergency
management agency contacts (  ASTSWMO has compiled a  List of
State Disaster Response Information that can be found at
( ASTSWMO represents state solid
waste regulators and can provide appropriate contacts and information.


State and local governments can enter into mutual aid agreements with neighboring state and
local governments prior to any natural disaster.  Such an agreement could provide for either
binding commitments or nonbinding intentions of support to  assist one another in the  event of
a natural disaster. Through these agreements, communities can loan equipment and personnel
with specific expertise or experience.

The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is  an example of a mutual aid
agreement between states. Established in 1996, EMAC is a congressionally ratified organization
that provides form and structure to interstate mutual aid. Through EMAC, a disaster-impacted
state can request and receive assistance from other member  states quickly and efficiently,
resolving two key issues upfront: liability and reimbursement.  After a state's governor declares
a state of emergency, an authorized state official from the affected state contacts EMAC and
requests assistance. EMAC deploys a  team to determine needs, costs, and availability of
resources. EMAC then assists the state in negotiating costs, and the responding states send the
requested resources. After the cleanup is underway, and the affected state returns to  normal
operations, the responding state requests reimbursement of costs.  More information on
EMAC can be found at (

Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) were established by the Emergency Planning
and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), which includes emergency planning and
community right-to-know requirements. Many communities have a LEPC. The purposes of the

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
LEPC are: development, training, and testing of the hazardous substances emergency response
plan for the community; development of procedures for regulated facilities to provide
information and emergency notification to the LEPC; development of procedures for receiving
and processing requests from the public under EPCRA; provision of public notification of LEPC
activities.  A major role for LEPCs is to work with industry and the interested public to
encourage continuous attention to chemical safety, risk reduction, and accident prevention by
each local stakeholder. To be prepared for a hazardous material incident in a community, the
LEPC coordinates with community officials, first responders and industrial representatives, for
the purpose of developing a detailed emergency plan designed to ensure public safety.


One of the best ways to prepare for disasters is to learn what other communities have
experienced. Appendix A contains some cases studies about lessons learned, but there are
many others that are not captured here.  Consider partnering with a similar community that
has prepared or is currently preparing for natural disasters, whether in the same state or
elsewhere. Develop an information sharing mechanism with that community that may include
meetings and site visits. In addition, local planners may check with other communities that have
experienced a disaster to learn about any environmental/legal issues may have been
experienced and resulted in a slower response to the management of their disaster debris.  If
nearby, consider having an agreement with this community to share staffing resources in the
event of a disaster. Having additional experienced personnel that already  understand the
disaster debris management plan can greatly aid in post-disaster clean-up.


In substantial natural disasters, community resources typically are overwhelmed. Communities
likely will need to  hire private disaster debris management contractors in these special
circumstances. Often, such contractors are experienced in dealing with disaster recovery
work, such as establishing staging areas, hauling and segregating debris, and coordinating FEMA
reimbursement processes.  It would be beneficial for municipal officials to identify what disaster
debris management contractors are in their
area.  Planners could establish relationships     Working with Private Companies
with such contractors while drafting their
community's disaster debris management        Dell Computer and Best Buy partnered
Plan-                                        with EPA, the states, and local
                                            governments to increase collection and
Other private companies and local             safe recyc|ing of computers and related
businesses may be able to offer assistance       electronic equipment, including monitors,
as well. Check with local companies to see     printers, scanners, keyboards, mice,
if they could offer specific assistance such as    ,aptops jys  VCRs DVD players, radios,
allowing large parking lots to be converted     and djsks  destroyed by the  effects of
into debris staging areas or community          Hurricane Katrina. This effort resulted in
drop-off locations.  Construction              recycling of more than 220,000 pounds  of
companies might make earth-moving           electronics debris.
equipment, water  pumps, and other

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
necessary equipment available for immediate use in the event of a disaster. Trucking companies
might be able to lend trailers, dump trucks, or roll-off dumpsters. These opportunities are just
examples of how a community can work with the private sector  in the event of a disaster.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
4   Federal  Resources Available To Help

The legal authority for federal assistance in natural disasters comes from the Robert T. Stafford
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (hereafter referred to as the "Stafford Act"),
which sets forth federal disaster relief responsibilities, procedures, and conditions for federal
assistance. Among many other activities, the Stafford Act authorizes debris removal in "the
public interest...from publicly and privately owned lands and water." The President makes the
final decision to declare an area a major disaster and therefore eligible for federal assistance.
The process for declaring a disaster is presented in Figure 3.  Most disasters, however, do not
qualify for federal assistance.

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) was created by the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) under Homeland Security Presidential Directive #5 (HSPD-5). The
NIMS describes command and control response efforts at all levels of government.  A copy of
the NIMS report can be found on FEMA's website
(  The NIMS provides a consistent
nationwide template to enable federal, state, local and tribal governments to work together
effectively and efficiently to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from domestic
incidents, regardless of cause, size, or complexity, including acts of catastrophic terrorism.
HSPD-5 requires all federal departments and agencies to adopt the NIMS and use it in their
individual domestic incident management and emergency prevention, preparedness, response,
recovery, and mitigation programs and activities, as well as in support of all actions taken to
assist state, local, or tribal entities.

NIMS describes the Incident Command System  (ICS), a management system designed  to enable
effective and efficient domestic incident management by integrating a combination of facilities,
equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common
organizational structure.  It is normally structured to facilitate activities in five major functional
areas: command, operations,  planning, logistics, and finance and administration. ICS is used by
all levels of government—federal, state, local, and tribal—as well as by many private-sector and
nongovernmental organizations. It is used to organize both  near-term and long-term field-level
operations for a broad spectrum of emergencies, from small to complex incidents, both natural
and manmade. State and  local government officials and other key personnel that will be
involved with developing plans for, preparing for, and potentially responding to disaster debris
could be familiar with and educated  on the ICS. FEMA provides free, on-line training on ICS
basics (ICS 100 and ICS 200), introduction to the NIMS (ICS 700), and introduction to the NRF
(ICS  800;

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
                 Figure 3.  Typical Process for a Major Disaster Declaration
           Event Occurs
              Is the Local
     Local Government
     manages recovery and
^.    debris removal with
       little or no aid or
   State Responds with state resources,
    such as the National Guard and state
     agencies (e.g., State Environmental
    Agency and Emergency Management
      Damage Assessment by local,
       state, federal, and volunteer
    organizations determines losses and
            recovery needs.

           Does Governor
            request major
                                                       State and local resources
                                                     move forward with recovery and
                                                     debris removal with little or no
                                                         federal aid or assistance
     FEMA evaluates the request and
     recommends action to the White
     House based on the scope of the
     disaster, and the local community
       and state's ability to recover.
              *Does the
             approve the
                                                      FEMA informs the Governc
                                                     that the request was denied and
                                                     that the disaster is not eligible to
                                                              receive aid.
   FEMA informs the Governor that
  request was granted and that the disaster
  is eligible to receive aid.  FEMA establishes
          a presence at locality.
                                * The President's decision process could take a few hours or
                                several weeks depending on the nature of the disaster.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris

While NIMS outlines a management system for response efforts at all levels of government
(federal, state, and local), DHS has developed the NRF to map out a uniform federal response
and to provide supporting mechanisms for disasters (  The NRF
defines what qualifies as an incident of national significance.  The first priority of the NRF is the
preservation of human life through immediate response actions. Once response missions and
life-saving activities conclude, the emphasis shifts from response to recovery operations and, if
applicable, hazard mitigation. These actions include debris clearance, the emergency restoration
of critical infrastructure, control, containment, and removal of environmental contamination,
and protection of responder health and safety.

The NRF categorizes the capabilities of federal departments and agencies into  15 ESFs to
provide the planning, support, resources, program implementation, and emergency services  that
are most likely to be  needed for incidents requiring a coordinated federal response. Different
federal agencies coordinate the various ESFs.  The ESF coordinator is the entity with
management oversight for that particular ESF. The coordinator has ongoing responsibilities
throughout the  preparedness, response, and recovery phases of incident management. The
ESFs that govern natural disaster debris removal  are ESF #3, "Public Works and Engineering"
and ESF #10, "Oil and Hazardous Materials Response." DHS makes  a final determination as to
whether to activate each ESF; not all ESFs are necessarily activated in response to all disasters.
           Emergency Support Functions Listed
 ESF #   Function
 1       Transportation
 2       Communications

 3       Public Works and Engineering

 4       Firefighting

 5       Emergency Management

 6       Mass Care, Emergency Assistance,
         Housing, and Human Services
 7       Logistics Management and Resource

 8       Public Health and Medical Services
 9       Search and Rescue

 10      Oil and Hazardous Materials Response
 11      Agriculture and Natural Resources
 12      Energy
 13      Public Safety and Security
 14      Long-Term Community Recovery

 15      External Affairs
in the National Response Framework
  ESF Coordinator
  U.S. Department of Transportation
  U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  (National Communications System)
  U.S. Department of Defense
  (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
  U.S. Department of Agriculture
  (U.S. Forest Service)
  U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
  U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
  U.S. General Services Administration and
  U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  U.S. Department of Agriculture
  U.S. Department of Energy
  U.S. Department of Justice
  U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
  U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris

FEMA is the lead federal agency that responds to disasters and emergencies to help save lives
and protect public health, safety, and property.  FEMA operates under specific regulations,
which are found in Chapter 44 of the CFR.  The Stafford Act and the CFR use the term "debris
removal" in a broad sense to encompass the entire process of removing, handling, recycling,
and disposing of debris. This regulation declares debris  removal to be in the public  interest, not
only to protect life, public health, and safety, but also to ensure economic recovery of the
affected community.

FEMA's most visible role in disaster recovery and debris management is in administering the
Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program.  The  program provides supplemental federal  disaster
grant assistance to states, local governments, and certain nonprofit organizations for debris
removal and disposal; emergency protective measures; and the repair, replacement, or
restoration of disaster-damaged  publicly owned facilities and the facilities of certain  private
nonprofit organizations.  The PA Grant Program is administered through a coordinated effort
among FEMA, the affected state, and the applicants. Communication and coordination  among
all of these  agencies are important.  After an emergency event, the state assumes the role of a
"grantee" and is responsible for administering the federal grant. Understanding FEMA
requirements prior to an  emergency enables a community to recover the maximum allowable
for cleanup costs.

PA funds are available to eligible applicants for debris clearance, removal, and disposal
operations.  Eligible applicants include state  and local governments, Indian tribes, and certain
private nonprofit organizations.  In order to be eligible for FEMA funding,  the debris removal
work must:

       •   Be a direct result of a Presidentially declared disaster;
       •   Occur within the designated disaster area; and
       •   Be the responsibility of the applicant at the time of the disaster.

In addition, debris removal work must  be necessary to:

       •   Eliminate an immediate threat to lives, public health and safety;
       •   Eliminate immediate threats of significant damage to improved  public or  private
          property; or
       •   Ensure the economic recovery of the affected community to the benefit  of the

Examples of eligible debris removal activities include:

       •   Debris removal from a public right-of-way to allow the safe passage of emergency
          vehicles; and
       •   Debris removal from public property to eliminate health and safety hazards.

Examples of ineligible debris removal activities include:

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
       •  Removal of debris, such as tree limbs and trunks, from an applicant's unimproved
          property or undeveloped land;
       •  Removal of pre-disaster sediment from engineered channels;
       •  Removal of debris from a natural channel unless the debris poses an immediate
          threat of flooding to improved property;
       •  Removal of debris from federal lands or facilities that are the authority of another
          federal agency or department, such as federal-aid roads, USAGE navigable
          waterways, and  Natural Resources Conservation Service canals.

Debris removal from  private property is generally not eligible for PA grant funding because it is
the responsibility of the individual property owner. If property owners move the disaster-
related debris to a public right-of-way, the local government may be reimbursed for curbside
pickup and disposal for a limited period of time.  If the debris on private business and residential
property is so widespread that public health, safety, or the economic recovery of the
community is threatened, FEMA may fund debris removal from private property, but it must be
approved in advance by FEMA.  Information on the PA Program, including links to PA policies, is
available on FEMA's website ( PA
resources for Debris  Management, including policies and specifically referring to FEMA's Debris
Management Guide are available at

In 2007, FEMA began  a PA  Pilot Program designed to reduce the Federal costs of administering
the PA Grant Program, increase flexibility in administering the PA Grant Program, and expedite
the much-needed  recovery dollars to the program's applicants following disasters.  FEMA
developed the  PA Pilot Program in response to the 2007 DHS Appropriations Act. The pilot
procedures are applicable to debris removal and the repair, restoration, and replacement of
damaged facilities.  Participation in the PA Pilot Program is open to state and local governments
on a voluntary basis.  FEMA expects to meet the goals of the Pilot Program by focusing on four
key procedures:

       •  Providing grants on the basis of estimates.
       •  Increasing  the Federal cost share to applicants that have a FEMA-approved debris
          management plan and at least two pre-qualified debris and wreckage removal
          contractors identified prior to a disaster.
       •  Allowing applicants to retain any revenue from recycling disaster debris as an
          incentive to recycle debris.
       •  Reimbursing the straight- or regular-time salaries and benefits of an applicant's
          permanently employed staff that performs debris-related activities.

More information about the PA Pilot Program can be found at:


USAGE is a public engineering organization that  operates within the Department of Defense.
According to the NRF, USAGE  is the coordinator and primary agency for ESF #3, "Public
Works and Engineering." USAGE also plays key roles in  support of FEMA or other federal

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
agencies. Typical USAGE activities and mission assignments include providing emergency power,
establishing temporary shelters and housing, providing temporary roofs, assessing building
structural safety, emergency repair of public infrastructure, supporting search and rescue
operations, providing safe drinking water and ice, and performing debris removal and disposal

USAGE maintains seven national response teams and ten regional contracts for debris
operations, all dedicated to supporting state and local governments. Under the NRF, USAGE
provides assistance to state and local governments by either a Technical Assistance mission
assignment or a Direct Federal Assistance mission assignment. Under Technical Assistance,
USAGE provides expert advice on all aspects of debris management and helps local
governments perform their own debris operations.  Direct Federal Assistance is provided at
the request of the state/local government when the scope of work is  beyond the capacity of the
local government to  perform. This is where USAGE uses its teams and contracts to perform
the debris operations mission in partnership with the local government. Additional information
can be found on the  USAGE'S website (

                                  USAGE Support

 The USAGE response to Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005 illustrates the
 type of support the Corps  provides the nation under ESF #3 in support of FEMA:

     •  A total of 6,141 Corps employees supported the response to the hurricanes.
     •  The total amount of the FEMA missions assigned to the Corps was $4.4 billion.
     •  The Corps installed a total of 193,000 temporary roofs.
     •  The Corps delivered 27 million gallons of water and 232 million pounds of ice.
     •  The Corps conducted 2,406 generator pre-installation inspections and then installed
        914 generators.
     •  The Corps removed a total of 38,967,195 cubic yards of debris.

EPA is the primary federal agency responsible for administering the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (RCRA). Under RCRA, EPA issues regulations and guidelines to properly manage
solid and hazardous wastes, and provides technical assistance to states and local governments.
EPA regulations provide explicit, legally enforceable requirements for hazardous waste
management.  In addition, the EPA provides technical assistance on nonhazardous waste
management.  A large part of the RCRA program is the development of EPA guidance and
policy directives to clarify issues related to the implementation of the regulations. RCRA allows
for state authorization by EPA for their hazardous waste management programs and most
states are authorized.  To support the implementation of RCRA, EPA manages an extensive
database that documents EPA interpretations of the RCRA regulations. The RCRA online
database is available on EPA's website (  PCBs are regulated
under TSCA (  EPA's Office of Solid Waste (OSW) recently assumed the


Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
disposal and clean-up programs for PCB management from the Office of Pollution Prevention
and Toxics.  A list of OSW PCB contacts can be found at: and EPA regional office PCB
contacts can be found at:
Asbestos is primarily regulated under NESHAP ( A list of EPA
headquarters and regional asbestos contacts can be found at:

In addition to regulatory functions for hazardous wastes, EPA provides support and technical
assistance on appropriate solid waste management practices. This is for the case for debris that
is regulated at the state and local levels, such as C&D materials. While the state and local
officials will provide the final decision on the management of these materials, EPA can provide
support and technical assistance on how these materials can be best managed and provide
contacts for partnerships.

EPA supports many voluntary programs, such as reuse and recycling programs, and can help
foster such activities.  EPA has been designated the authorized agency for the Recycling
Electronics and Asset Disposition (READ) Services contract, providing recycling and asset
disposition  services on a government-wide basis for the recycling of electronic equipment,  and
the disposal of excess or obsolete electronic equipment in an environmentally responsible
manner.  Seven federal agencies  are able to buy into the contract's services through the EPA.
Communities may be able to utilize this vehicle through one of the federal agencies (EPA,
USAGE, National Park Service, FEMA, Department of Education, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms, and DOE). Additional information can be found at

Furthermore, EPA  is the primary federal agency responsible for providing emergency support
related to the release of hazardous materials and providing support under the NRF. As part of
these responsibilities, EPA responds to releases of hazardous materials and provides technical
assistance for environmental monitoring following releases.  EPA is the lead federal agency
under ESF #10, "Oil and Hazardous Materials Response." Under this ESF, FEMA funds EPA's
management of orphan tanks (for propane and other fuel), drums, and HHW.  EPA also
provides support to local and  state agencies  in properly managing debris deemed hazardous,
including HHW. Under  ESF #3,  "Public Works and Engineering," of the NRF, EPA assists
USAGE and local agencies in identifying disposal sites for debris. In addition, EPA assists with
contaminated debris management activities by coordinating and/or providing resources,
assessments, data, expertise, technical assistance, and monitoring.  EPA also assists in the
assessment and restoration of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.  EPA may be able
to provide support, even when disasters are not federally declared, under the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as
Superfund, the National Contingency Plan (NCP),  and the National  Response Center (NRC).
These programs can be used to  respond in a prompt manner to short-term threats involving
the release and threatened release of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
                       EPA Involvement in Hurricane Katrina

        EPA worked with USAGE and other federal agencies, state agencies, and local
 governments to facilitate the collection, segregation, and management of HHW.  EPA
 provided extensive outreach and technical assistance on topics such as identifying and
 disposing of electrical equipment that may contain PCBs and on handling and disposal of
 debris containing asbestos.  EPA also set up monitoring stations to monitor air and water
 quality following Hurricane  Katrina.  Additionally, EPA provided the affected states with
 technical assistance on the burning of disaster debris. A summary of this assistance can be
 found at

The USCG supports USAGE in responding to marine debris contaminated with oil or
hazardous substances. Under ESF #3, the USCG:

       •  Marks and coordinates with USAGE for the removal of obstructions declared to be
          hazards to navigation.
       •  Assists in vessel salvage and removal of vessel debris. This includes coordinating
          and/or providing resources, assessments, expertise, technical assistance, monitoring,
          and other appropriate support.

The USCG has statutory authority and responsibility to oversee oil and hazardous substance
pollution response operations associated with debris removal and salvage operations in the
Coastal Zone in accordance with the NCP (40 CFR Part 300).  ESF #10 is primarily concerned
with oil and hazardous materials response. While the EPA is the coordinator for  ESF #10,
USCG is the other primary agency responsible for coordination under ESF #10.  Under ESF
#10, the USCG:

       •  Provides expertise on environmental effects of oil discharges or releases of
          hazardous materials and environmental pollution control techniques.
       •  Maintains the NRG.
       •  Maintains continuously staffed facilities that can be used for command, control, and
          surveillance of oil discharges and hazardous materials releases occurring within its

For incidents for which USCG is the primary agency, they:

       •  Maintain close coordination between USCG  Headquarters, the affected area, district
          office(s), the EPA (as appropriate), the Domestic Readiness Group (DRG), the
          National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), other ESFs, and the NRT.
       •  Coordinate, integrate, and  manage the overall federal effort to detect, identify,
          contain, clean up, dispose or minimize releases of oil or hazardous materials, or
          prevent, mitigate, or minimize the threat of potential releases.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
       •   Provide on-scene coordinators (OSCs) for incidents within its jurisdiction (including
          for the coastal zone response for incidents for which EPA is the primary agency, but
          the incident affects both the inland and coastal zone).


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers two emergency natural disaster debris
recovery programs, the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) and the Emergency
Conservation Program (ECP). They are quick response programs that provide immediate relief
to disaster areas in the prevention of further damage to infrastructure caused by debris.  USDA
Farm Service Agency's (FSA) ECP provides emergency funding and technical assistance for
farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. This assistance is
provided to remove debris, restore fences and conservation structures, and provide water for
livestock in drought situations. More information can be found at the FSA's website
( The purpose of the  EWP program is to undertake emergency
measures, including the  purchase of flood plain easements, for runoff retardation and soil
erosion prevention to safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of
erosion on any watershed whenever fire, flood or any other natural occurrence is causing or
has caused a sudden impairment  of the watershed. The key to these programs is that they
allow for local communities to receive assistance  directly from the USDA.  More information
about the EWP  program and  points of contact can be found at the USDA's National Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS) website ( USDA has
local offices in almost every county of the country where communities can quickly seek out

The USDA provides leadership, technical expertise, and assistance for the management of
animal  carcasses. The USDA has produced  "Disaster Planning," technical assistance  on how to
prepare for a disaster ( Kansas State
University, Purdue University, and Texas A&M University produced "Carcass Disposal: A
Comprehensive Review" for USDA's Animal and  Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
(<emid=37). APHIS
also maintains the National Animal  Health Emergency Management System Guidelines, which
provide information that may be  integrated  into the preparedness plans of other federal, state
and local agencies, tribes, and additional groups involved in animal health emergency
management activities (

Under  the NRF, the  USDA is the coordinator and primary agency for ESF #11, "Agriculture and
Natural Resources."  Under this  ESF, the USDA coordinates responding to animal and plant
diseases and pests and ensuring the safety and security of the commercial food supply. USDA
also supports the USAGE under ESF #3, "Public Works and Engineering,"  if available, by
providing engineering and contracting/procurement personnel and equipment to assist in
emergency removal of debris (which may include  animal carcasses), demolition, temporary
protection of roads and bridges, temporary protection of essential public facilities, water supply,
and sanitation. They also provide technical  personnel to evaluate damage to water control

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
USDA is also part of the Federal WBUG along with DOE and DOI, which seeks to utilize
biomass produced from disasters. The WBUG is working under the guidance of the
interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Policy Principles for Woody Biomass
Utilization.  The MOU can be found at


The U.S. DOT FHWA assists in the emergency repair of federal roads—repairs made
immediately following a disaster to restore essential traffic, to minimize the extent of damage,
or to  protect the remaining facilities. State and local transportation agencies are empowered
to begin emergency repairs immediately. Properly documented costs will be reimbursed once
the FHWA division administrator determines that the disaster is eligible for federal funding. The
types  of activities that are eligible for federal funding are regrading road surfaces, debris
removal, and demolition and reconstruction of damaged bridges. The program only funds
projects that restore the roadways to their pre-disaster design and purpose.  Permanent road
restoration work is not eligible for reimbursement if performed  prior to authorization by the
FHWA, unless it is determined to be more economical or practical to perform such work as an
associated part of the emergency repairs. Permanent repairs should be administered using
normal federal-aid contracting procedures. For more  information on the grant assistance
available through the FHWA, review its Emergency Relief Manual available electronically at

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
5   Summary of Lessons Learned  from Past Disasters

A summary of important lessons learned regarding disaster debris management plans is
presented below.  A compilation of individual case studies discussing lessons learned can be
found in Appendix A. These case studies are presented as examples of how others overcame
obstacles during clean-up and recovery.

A natural disaster may occur within a community,  and if the first action after the disaster is to
plan how the community will respond, the community will face serious consequences as it deals
with disaster debris. If a natural disaster occurs in a community, local officials will want to
immediately reach for their disaster debris management plan. Experience has shown that
having a disaster debris management plan and thinking though the creation of the plan will
minimize costly mistakes, speed recovery, protect human health and the environment, and
avoid  the creation of waste. It will also increase the confidence of the community in the local
government's ability to respond effectively to such disaster.

EPA sought out people in communities that have experienced natural disasters to obtain their
guidance on  the importance of a disaster management plan and the individual components of
such plans. These community leaders all believe that a disaster management plan "gives you a
place to start" and "makes you  more prepared when the battle comes."  These community
leaders differ on their opinions of most important component of a disaster management plan.
Several community leaders stated that communicating with the public and having a community
awareness plan was the most critical component, while others stated that being able to make an
accurate estimate of the amount of debris to be potentially managed was the key. There is no
one component of a disaster debris management plan that is the key component; rather, the
key is to address all of the components and to  update the plan regularly, and to be fully
prepared to implement it when a natural disaster strikes.

Every disaster debris management plan should have the necessary components that have been
described in this planning document. That is, communities need to anticipate the type of natural
disaster that is likely to impact their community.  Understanding the type and possible sizes of
natural disasters will influence the type and amount of debris that may be generated.  Having an
inventory of existing waste management facilities, their capacities, and capabilities, and planning
for additional temporary storage/staging and disposal options will help.  Having pre-negotiated
contracts or a list of pre-qualified contractors for managing debris will help ensure that clean-up
efforts start quickly and proceed in a timely and efficient manner.  Making sure that equipment
and administrative needs are fulfilled will help to ensure that the necessary equipment and
people will be in place. Communicating with the public will ensure that disaster debris clean-up
will be understood.  Making sure that debris management is accomplished in an environmentally
sound manner will protect the community during and immediately after the natural disaster
occurs, as well as, into the future.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
6   Examples of State and Local Disaster Debris Management
    Plans and Guidance

The following documents are presented as examples of how state and local governments have
planned for disaster debris management. This list is not exhaustive and these plans and
guidance documents have not been reviewed or endorsed by EPA, but are included as examples
of what others have done.  Additional plans and guidance can be found from ASTSWMO at:


Alabama Department of Environmental Management
"Guidelines for Open Burning of Natural Disaster Debris," 2004 I .pdf

California Integrated Waste Management Board
"Disaster Preparedness and Response" Homepage
"Integrated Waste Management Disaster Plan,"  1997

Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection
"Overview of Disaster Debris Management Planning for Connecticut Municipalities," 2006

Florida Department of Environmental Protection
"Guidance for Establishment, Operation and Closure of Staging Areas for Hurricane-generated
Debris," November 19, 2004 (updated 09-22-05)

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
"Comprehensive Plan for Disaster Clean-Up and Debris Management"

Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
"Hurricane Katrina Disaster Recovery"

North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
"Prepared? Planning for a Natural Disaster," 2006

Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality
"Central Oklahoma Tornado: Guidelines for Debris Management," 1999


Planning for Natural Disaster Debris


      Alameda County
      "Alameda County Disaster Waste Management Plan," 1998

      San Francisco City/County
      "Disaster Debris Recovery Plan," 1997
       Escambia County
       "Debris Management Plan," 2006

       Palm Beach County
       "Debris Management Plan," 2007

       Pinellas County
       "Disaster Debris Management Plan," 2006
       Franklin County
       "Disaster Debris Management Planning Document," 2006 County Debris Document Ian07.pdf
       City of Fairfax
       "Debris Management Plan," 2006

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Literature  References

California Seismic Safety Commission (2005). Homeowner's Guide to Earthquake Safety. SSC No.
05-01, San Jose, CA.
County of San Diego (2005). County of San Diego Debris Removal and Recycling Programs for the
2003 Cedar & Paradise Fires Final Report. San  Diego, CA.
Department of Homeland Security. (2006). Quick Reference Guide for the National Response Plan.
Version 4.0, Washington, DC.
Energy Information Administration. (2003). Annual Electric Generator Report, Form EIA-860, Annual
Electric Generator Report - Utility, Form EIA-860A.
Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2007). Public Assistance: Debris Management Guide,
FEMA 325, Washington, DC.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection. (2005). Guidance for Establishment,  Operation,
and Closure of Staging Areas for Hurricane-Generated Debris. Tallahassee, FL.
Jambeck, Jenna, Alberta Carpenter, Kevin Gardner, and Keith Weitz. (2007).  University of
New Hampshire Life-Cycle Assessment of C&D Derived Biomass/Wood Waste Management.
University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH.
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. (2006). Comprehensive  Plan for Disaster Clean-up
and Debris Management.  Baton Rouge, LA.
Luther, Lindsey. (2006). Disaster Debris Removal After Hurricane Katrina: Status and Associated
Issues. Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress: RL  33477. Library of
Congress, Washington, DC.
National Science and Technology Council. (2005). Grand Challenges for Disaster Reduction.
Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC.
Solid Waste Association of North America.  (2005). Hurricane Katrina Disaster Debris
Management: Lessons Learned From State and Local Government: Briefing Report. Silver Spring, MD.
State of Louisiana. (2006). Debris Management Plan, Hurricane Katrina: DR-FEMA-I603-LA. Baton
Rouge, LA.
United States Forest Service; Pacific South Region and California Department of Forestry and
Fire  Protection. (2004). California Fire Siege 2003: The Story. California Department of Forestry
and Fire Protection.
University of Florida. (2004). Recommended Management Practices for the Removal of Hazardous
Materials From Buildings Prior to Demolition. 2nd Edition. Department of Environmental  Engineering
Sciences. Gainesville, FL.
Western Governors' Association (2006). Clean and Diversified Energy Initiative: Biomass Task Force
Report. Denver, CO.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Homeland Security Resources on Disposal  Produced by U.S.
Clarification and Revision of April 6, 2004 Memorandum on Recommended Interim Practices
for Disposal of Potentially Contaminated Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Carcasses and
Waste. Memorandum from Matt Hale to RCRA Division Directors dated November 12, 2004.

Disposal of Domestic Birds Infected by Avian Influenza - An Overview of Considerations and
Options. August I I, 2006. EPA530-R-06-009.

Federal Food and Agriculture Decontamination and Disposal Roles and Responsibilities.
November 2005. Produced in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health & Human
Services, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S.
Department of Agriculture, I 1222005.pdf

Homeland Security website:

Homeland Security Research Center website:

Planning for Disaster Debris. December  1995. EPA530-K-95-OIO.

Recommended Interim Practices for Disposal of Potentially Contaminated Chronic Wasting
Disease Carcasses and Waste. Memorandum from Robert Springer to RCRA Division
Directors dated April 6, 2004.

Strategic Plan for Homeland Security. September 2002.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
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Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
                         Appendix A

             Lessons Learned From Past Disasters

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
The following disaster debris case studies were provided by various federal, state, and local
sources.  They are examples in which planning benefited the debris management process, as
well as those in which officials identified improved planning opportunities.  Lessons learned are
included for the following disasters:

       •   Louisiana:  Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
       •   Mississippi: Hurricane Katrina
       •   Palm Beach County,  Florida: Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne
       •   San Diego, California: 2003 Cedar and Pines Firestorm
       •   Escambia County, Florida: Hurricane Ivan
       •   Los Angeles, California: Northridge Earthquake
       •   Alstead, New Hampshire: 2005 Flooding

In addition to these lessons learned, other recommendations can be found in the Solid Waste
Association of North  America (SWANA) document "Hurricane Katrina Disaster Debris
Management:  Lessons Learned from State and Local Governments" (2005). The SWANA
document discusses advice given to Louisiana and Mississippi from SWANA members that have
experienced many different types of disasters. SWANA represents thousands of solid waste
professionals (


On August 29, 2005,  Hurricane Katrina struck southeastern Louisiana, causing widespread
damage along the coastline and  in New Orleans. The Louisiana Department of Environmental
Quality (LDEQ) issued it first emergency declaration on August 30. This declaration, in part,
addressed debris management issues.  Thereafter, LDEQ developed a debris management plan.
On September 24, 2005, Hurricane Rita made landfall near the Louisiana/Texas border,
impacting several parishes in southwestern Louisiana and counties in Texas.


The LDEQ, together with EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard, formed a unified command. This
facilitated debris management and recycling discussions between LDEQ and EPA.  Daily
communication was established  with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USAGE) and FEMA.
Outreach to citizens was facilitated through flyers, websites, TV and radio announcements, and
news releases.

Collection and Recycling

The State of Louisiana identified recycling as a priority. Consequently, recycling efforts were
undertaken, not only  by the  state, but by the federal partners as well.  Vegetative debris was
generally chipped or ground. The federal, state, and local partners recognized  that this
vegetative debris could potentially be used for energy recovery. In Louisiana, an obstacle to
this use was the Formosan termite infestation in the southeastern and southwestern parishes.
As a result, all cellulose material was quarantined in nine southeastern, and three southwestern
parishes.  This made shipment to potential users problematic.   In  Louisiana, much of the
chipped vegetative debris was used as  cover at landfills.


Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Under ESF 10, EPA was tasked to lead the household hazardous waste collection effort in most
Louisiana parishes. Returning citizens were encouraged to segregate household hazardous
waste at the curbside, to facilitate collection.  See Appendix B for examples of flyers used to
communicate debris collection with the public.  The USAGE added incentives to contracts to
ensure that the USAGE contractors were conducting curbside debris segregation. Particular
attention was given to segregation of household hazardous waste and electronics. EPA
developed a plan for the collection and recycling of household hazardous waste, and
coordinated daily with the USAGE to  ensure that materials were properly segregated. As many
as 15 household hazardous waste collection centers were operating at one time. Through the
efforts of EPA, USAGE, and others, over 24 million pounds of household hazardous waste was
collected.  Much of the household  hazardous waste was recycled. Recycled materials included
batteries, propane cylinders, gasoline,  and oil.

After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Region in 2005, EPA and  USAGE worked to collect and
recycle damaged electronic equipment in the  New Orleans and surrounding areas. After the
flooding subsided, over 500,000 homes were damaged.  It was estimated that many of these
homes had at least two televisions and one personal computer.  In addition, numerous
electronic items such as game consoles, musical equipment, and  stereo equipment were
discarded. After the initial Task Order was issued, EPA established seven staging areas  in the
New Orleans and surrounding areas where trucks would wait for the USAGE and EPA
personnel to sort the electronics into different electronic debris areas.  Since November 2005,
over 12,500 tons of discarded electronic wastes have been collected and properly recycled.
The federal partners were able to ensure that the electronics  were being properly recycled, in
a cost effective manner, through the use of EPA's Recycling Electronics and Asset Disposition
(READ) Services. Private partners, including Dell Computer and Best Buy expressed interest in
helping with the Katrina electronics recycling effort. Both companies sponsored electronics
collections events in the New Orleans area.

EPA, USAGE, and local contractors were tasked with the collection, staging, cleaning &
recycling of white goods.  LDEQ specified in its "Emergency Declaration" that all white  goods
must be recycled. White goods included refrigerant containing appliances such as freezers,
refrigerators, and air conditioners; and other large appliances such as ranges, ovens,
dishwashers, washers and dryers.  EPA was involved in the collection,  refrigerant extraction,
and recycling of the steel from nearly  400,000 white goods. Over 45,000 pounds of refrigerant
were extracted and, of that, approximately 25,000 pounds of refrigerant were recycled.

The LDEQ was requested by the Governor's Office to remove the hurricane damaged vehicles
and vessels destroyed after the two hurricanes. As of July 2007, they had collected
approximately 12,000 vehicles and vessels from the public rights-of-way and from private
property.  The vessels ranged in size from small fishing boats and wave runners to 100-foot
steel-hulled shrimp boats and barges.  At the individual pickup/collection points on the
highways, the contracts call for site remediation of leaking fuels,  etc. After proper notifications
to the  registered owners, all lead batteries, mercury switches, Freon, antifreeze, fuels and oil
reservoirs were drained.  Contractors were also required to inspect for, and  remove, any
stoves, refrigerators, ammunition, or other explosives that may be found.  All collected
materials were inventoried and sent for recycling. The remaining metals, such as aluminum

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
masts and lead keel from sailboats, copper wiring, and crushed steel from vehicles, were
separated, crushed, and recycled.

Guidance given by the EPA regarding disaster debris management following Hurricane Katrina
can be found at:


Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005
and moved up the eastern side of Mississippi.  One of the biggest environmental challenges the
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) faced was managing the enormous
amount of debris caused by Hurricane Katrina. According to FEMA, approximately 46 million
cubic yards of debris was created in the State of Mississippi alone. Of this amount, over 24
million cubic yards was generated in the three Gulf Coast counties of Hancock, Harrison, and
Jackson.  Approximately 70% (or over 17 million cubic yards) of the debris in these three
coastal counties consisted of building and structural type wastes and the other 30% (or just
over seven million cubic yards) consisted of trees, limbs, and other vegetative debris.


To respond to the ensuing debris management issues, MDEQ initiated several response actions.
First, MDEQ stationed a team of engineers, scientists, and emergency responders on the coast
from the agency's Jackson headquarters to assist local governments, industries, businesses and
other agencies and organizations with monitoring and decision making on debris management
issues. The MDEQ's South  Regional Office located in Biloxi was not able  to provide support
after the storm since the facility  was significantly damaged and several of the employees lost
their homes and suffered other personal damage. Each week a  new response team would
rotate to the coastal station and assume responsibilities for assistance and monitoring of debris
management activities and sites.  A daily conference call between MDEQ headquarters and the
response team stationed on the  coast was implemented to discuss and help address various
decisions and issues related to debris management and other environmental conditions.  In
addition, MDEQ initially stationed debris specialists from the agency at the headquarters of the
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. It quickly became evident that the disaster debris
conditions required more resources. Consequently, MDEQ established a debris response
station and call center at the MDEQ headquarters in Jackson. The call center was also staffed
with MDEQ engineers, scientists, data management specialists and others  to help with planning,
decision making, public complaints and inquiries and networking with other state and federal
agencies to assist the citizens of  the state with debris management issues as well as other
environmental and public health  problems. MDEQ maintained a system to track the resolution
of calls and attempted to resolve all questions or inquiries with  callers that were within our
environmental oversight. In addition, MDEQ  often worked with local emergency management
personnel, local solid waste management personnel, volunteer groups, the State Department of
Health, local landfills, and disposal contractors to assist citizens  with other associated problems.

MDEQ also joined and participated in a Joint Debris Task Force of Federal and State Agencies
to address the various aspects of the disaster debris management conditions.  The Debris Task
Force led by FEMA included representatives from MDEQ, the State  Forestry Commission, the

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
State Department of Agriculture and Commerce, the EPA, USAGE, the State Department of
Archives and History, the USCG, and various other agencies. The Task Force met weekly,
discussed targeted debris management problems, and worked together on a joint resolution of
those problems.

MDEQ Addresses Problem Wastes and Debris Management

MDEQ had to address wastes that had been released into the environment that would create
the most pressing environmental and public health concerns.  MDEQ worked with the EPA to
assess facilities and communities across the Gulf Coast for release of hazardous constituents.
State and federal representatives visited various industrial and commercial facilities to assess
potential hazardous releases to the environment. The state was fortunate that these
assessments did not reveal widespread release  of hazardous  materials.  Those releases that
could be identified were contained and addressed. Smaller quantities of hazardous materials
from damaged  households and businesses would be dealt with by ongoing identification and
segregation of the material from the normal debris collection and  management activities.  An
additional problem that had public health concerns was the tremendous amounts of food waste
including poultry, bananas, and pork belly products at the state port in Gulfport, fish and other
seafood products at the Pascagoula Port, and at seafood industries along the Gulf Coast.  Most
of these materials had to be collected and disposed quickly to prevent public health problems
from the decomposing foods.  In a few instances, the bulk food wastes were of such significant
concern that MDEQ worked  with EPA to dispose of the materials under the hazardous material
management provisions. MDEQ also dealt with grocery and convenience stores along the coast
that had suffered electricity outages and in some instances that were flooded, leaving rotting
and decaying food in the stores. MDEQ worked with store owners to develop plans for
cleanout and disposal of these food products to prevent these materials from creating public
health concerns.

In addition to these actions on problem wastes streams, MDEQ had to address the large
amount of debris from homes, commercial  buildings and other structures. Immediately after
the storm, MDEQ conducted an evaluation of the recycling capabilities and of the existing
landfill capacity on the Gulf Coast to determine what additional disposal capacity the three
coastal counties might need to in order to dispose of the hurricane debris. This evaluation
indicated that recycling of much of the disaster debris would be difficult given that the materials
were mixed together and in some instances contaminated or damaged beyond  recovery.
Consequently landfill disposal would likely be the most practical solution to the largest volume
of the debris. The evaluation also indicated  that there was a significant shortfall in needed
landfill disposal capacity and that MDEQ in coordination with the local governments would
likely need to consider new emergency landfill sites for the debris as well  as other management
options. The emergency landfills sites, upon approval, would  only operate temporarily until  the
debris clean up could be completed.  MDEQ also was concerned that the communities should
preserve some available landfill capacity for the future needs of the counties as  large volumes of
wastes would also be generated in rebuilding our Gulf Coast. Consequently, MDEQ worked
with local governments in the three coastal counties in approving the  13 temporary emergency
disposal sites in addition to six permitted  landfill sites that existed prior to the hurricane.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
MDEQ also worked with local governments, the USAGE, and with other debris contractors to
develop sites for staging and temporary storage of wastes to segregate various types of the
debris for proper management. At these sites, vegetative debris, white goods, electronics,
hazardous materials, and other materials would be segregated for management at the proper
disposal or recycling site.  This type of segregation was also done at the landfill sites. Sites were
developed with EPA to manage and temporarily store the hazardous materials that would be
pulled from the debris piles and segregated for proper management or that would be collected
from residents or hazardous material clean up actions. In some areas, the EPA was able to
offer curbside collection of HHW. Over the course of the debris clean up, sites would also be
established for white goods recycling, staging damaged boats and automobiles, crushing
concrete, and staging debris removed from state waters, and other activities.

MDEQ also worked with local governments and other state and federal agencies to set up
vegetative debris management sites, focusing on the waste stream that included downed trees,
stumps, large limbs and other similar wastes. These sites involved mulching and burning the
vegetative wastes to reduce the volume of materials. Conditions were developed for locating
burn sites that included various set back distances and location stipulations to avoid problems
and nuisances for local citizens. MDEQ developed an ash use policy that would allow burn sites
to (upon appropriate sampling) propose  beneficial use of the debris ash as a soil conditioner.  In
addition, MDEQ worked with  the USAGE to promote use of the millions of cubic yards of
mulch created.  Mulch was reused as boiler fuel, at blueberry farms, and landscaping around
municipal and county properties, golf courses, schools and other sites. Mulch was even used in
some of the live oak recovery  efforts along the gulf coast, helping the trees recover from the
surge and wind damage of Hurricane Katrina. Despite finding these varied uses for the mulch,
the volume of materials was so great that MDEQ had to create  additional disposal sites in some
communities strictly for mulch materials for which no market or end  use could be found.
These problems become more urgent when several of these large mulch piles in southern part
of the state began to spontaneously combust. MDEQ worked with the USAGE at that time to
evaluate and approve emergency disposal sites to move the mulch to  for final disposal.

Overall, some 340 temporary  sites were approved for handling  the wastes generated by
Katrina. In addition, numerous permanent solid waste landfills, transfer stations, and other solid
waste facilities were used for the management of hurricane debris.  Of the 340 sites, more than
250 were chip or burn sites for vegetative wastes only, approximately 30 sites were approved
for staging wastes, and approximately 80 sites were approved as burial sites.  On the coast, the
13 temporary emergency landfill sites and the six permitted disposal sites received the bulk of
the 17 million cubic yards of building and structural debris (along with six permitted disposal
sites).  The other disposal sites were used primarily for the disposal of vegetative debris which
could not be recycled.

MDEQ Emergency Debris  Site Evaluation and Operating Procedures

MDEQ recognized, in developing the temporary emergency landfill  sites, that protection of the
state's groundwater and surface water resources was paramount, especially in the midst of the
nation's worst disaster. Consequently, MDEQ implemented a number of policies and actions in
the management of the hurricane  debris  to ensure that the disposal of this tremendous amount
of debris would not create long term environmental  problems for the area.  As stated, MDEQ

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
worked with local governments in the three coastal counties to approve 13 temporary
emergency disposal sites in addition to six permitted landfill sites that existed prior to the
hurricane.  These existing landfill sites all had gone through an extensive environmental review
in the process to obtain a permit to ensure that the locations where these landfills were
constructed were geologically suitable with underlying low permeable clays to protect
groundwater resources in the area of disposal.  In addition, MDEQ also evaluated each of the
13 sites used for the temporary emergency landfills to determine if the underlying geology and
groundwater conditions at the sites were suitable for debris disposal. Sites that did not have
suitable underlying clay soils or where groundwater was unacceptably close to the surface were
not approved for disposal of the hurricane debris.  MDEQ also evaluated these sites for other
environmental concerns including wetlands protection, protection of nearby surface waters
(such as rivers, streams, or bayous), proximity to residences and other types of structures, and
proximity to the debris to attempt to minimize the distances that wastes would need to be

In addition  to the environmental siting review conducted on each site, MDEQ also required
that the sites be operated in a manner that was protective of the environment and that
prevented public nuisances and other problems. Debris sites were required to receive proper
compaction, a periodic earthen cover and a final earthen cover upon closure.  MDEQ
maintained  a daily presence at these emergency landfill sites during the clean up activities
following the hurricane to ensure that the sites were being operated in a proper manner  that
was protective of our state's natural resources. Another primary operational concern for
these sites was that materials that contain chemicals or toxics should be removed from the
debris prior to ultimate disposal. Consequently, there were often several points in the debris
management at which these potentially hazardous wastes in the debris were segregated and
disposed of in a different manner.  HHW and similar items from commercial businesses were
segregated  from the debris at the point of initial collection, in some instances at a specific
staging or segregation site, and then finally again at the actual disposal sites. Smaller items such
as household chemicals and cleaners,  solvents, paints, petroleum products, and  various other
materials were removed from the wastes to the extent possible and  segregated for
management by the EPA under ESF #10.

Larger household items (such as large appliances, lawn mowers, computers, and televisions)
were also segregated and removed because these items contain chemicals, refrigerant, heavy
metals, and petroleum products.  In addition, these bulky items would make proper compaction
at the landfills difficult to achieve.  Proper compaction was important at landfills because it helps
to prevent  the infiltration of rainwater into the landfill, thereby reducing leachate generation
and the combustion potential within the landfill.  These segregated large household items were
recycled where possible. Items which could not be recycled was sent to municipal solid waste
landfills with constructed liner systems for disposal.

Perhaps the greatest recycling success was with white goods and other similar metals.  In the
three coast counties, information given to MDEQ indicates that more than 24,000 tons of metal
was collected, baled, and recycled  at white goods collection sites. Assuming an average of
weight of approximately 100 pounds per white good unit, it is estimated that over 450,000
refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers and hot water heater units were recycled.  Efforts were

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
made to extract the refrigerant from each refrigerator and freezer units prior to baling.
Approximately 1,500 pounds of refrigerant was salvaged and recycled.  A smaller amount of
aluminum and iron was recycled as well.  Mississippi had less success in recycling electronics
products due to the damage and salt water inundation to many of the units that were collected.
However, there were some sponsored events on the coast to recover damaged electronic
materials.  EPA and the Best Buy Retail Chain teamed up with MDEQ and Jackson County to
sponsor a collection event in that county for damaged electronics.

Ensuring Proper Site Closure

In addition to the considerations in approving and operating these emergency sites, MDEQ has
also worked with FEMA to ensure proper closure of disposal sites, mulch sites, burn sites and
staging sites. As of August 3 I, 2007, most of the 340 emergency debris management sites had
been closed, including 250 or more  mulch and burn sites as well as the 30 staging sites. With
FEMA's assistance, MDEQ installed groundwater monitoring systems at each of the 13
emergency disposal sites and at the  six permitted existing disposal sites that took the Katrina
debris. These monitoring systems consisting of wells constructed around the perimeter of each
landfill. They will help  MDEQ detect potential groundwater contamination.  MDEQ has
conducted monitoring  events at these sites and is planning to conduct additional groundwater
monitoring events.

Approximately ten percent of the sites had various issues that had prevented the sites from
being considered as properly closed. These conditions vary but they include sites where debris
has not been properly  removed or processed, sites where ash and other residuals have been
left in an apparently unacceptable condition, and other sites where authorized debris
management activities were not initiated or properly completed for various reasons.  MDEQ is
in the process of working with MEMA to assure proper closure of the  remaining debris sites
and to resolve the remaining environmental issues at the sites so that the State of Mississippi
can move forward with completion  of Katrina-related debris management issues.  The scope of
the work entails reviewing and assessing the conditions at each site, determining the proper
course of action to remedy site conditions, identifying the persons responsible for conducting
remedial actions, and then moving forward with these actions to complete the closure process.

MDEQ is also working on an evaluation and revision of the Emergency Debris Management
policies implemented after Katrina.  The revised policies will be compiled into a Debris
Management Plan that will assist MDEQ, other State and Federal Agencies, local governments,
emergency management responders, and emergency management debris contractors in being
prepared for the next disaster event that could occur in Mississippi.  In summary, MDEQ
believes that the debris management activities in Mississippi have been conducted in a manner
that will ensure protection of the environment for generations to come.

For more information on  Hurricane Katrina debris management in Mississippi, see
ument and

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris

On September 3, 2004, Palm Beach County, Florida was hit by Hurricane Frances.  The
county's Solid Waste Authority (SWA) immediately established nine temporary debris
management sites throughout the county. Three weeks later, the county was hit by Hurricane
Jeanne. With winds exceeding I 15 miles per hour, these two powerful storms caused a large
amount of damage to the county.


Palm Beach County had a debris management plan in place prior to the 2004 storm season.
Marc Bruner, director  of environmental programs for the Palm  Beach County Solid Waste
Authority (SWA), stated, "Hurricane Irene was the last storm that we were unprepared for."
When Hurricane Irene hit Palm Beach County in 1999 with up to 95 miles per hour winds and
15 inches of rain, the county did not have pre-event contracts or a debris management plan in
place at that time. "That year was a real wake up call with Hurricane Irene hitting  us and
Hurricane Floyd narrowly missing. We've now taken the necessary steps to  put a solid  plan in

SWA drafted  a plan to restore public infrastructure following a  disaster, locate and secure
temporary debris storage sites, put policies in place to assist local municipalities in clearing
roads for emergency personnel, and facilitate federal reimbursement. The plan included pre-
existing contracts that  provide trained and qualified debris management contractor services in
the event of a disaster.  Five contractors and numerous subcontractors and vendors were
employed in the debris collection and management processes, all of which were approved by

Collection and  Recycling

Local haulers and contractors, coordinating with SWA, cleared  roadways and neighborhoods of
more than two million  cubic yards of debris  during four weeks after the hurricane.  Temporary
debris collection sites were established at nine locations two days after Hurricane Frances
passed. The temporary debris sites stayed open for three months and approximately four
million cubic yards of debris were collected and processed. Approximately 80%  of the  debris
was vegetative debris and 20% was mixed debris.

More than three million cubic yards of vegetative debris was ground up and consolidated into
chipped mulch. SWA innovatively diverted most of the mulch from the landfill and conserved
more than 25 acres of  landfill space. SWA reused approximately 872,000 cubic yards of mulch
through land application to large tracts of agricultural land located in the western parts  of Palm
Beach County.

Communication with the Public

In the hours before Hurricane Frances made landfall, SWA began communicating with the
public through the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center.  The initial message was
that the county would  resume normal perishable garbage  collection as quickly as possible  and

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
instructed residents to keep garbage separated from storm debris. SWA also announced that
its customer service information hotline would be open within hours immediately following the
storm. The customer service information staff received and processed more than  100,000
phone calls between the day that Hurricane Frances hit and the beginning of November (two
months). "Everyone wanted their streets cleared as soon as possible," Bruner said, "but our
message was consistent—be patient; our crews will be there." Bruner also believed that a
public information campaign conducted just before hurricane season educated the public to
place vegetative debris and mixed debris in different piles. The campaign proved to be very
effective in shaping the public response during the recovery efforts.

Palm Beach County's 2007 Debris Management Plan can be found at


In October 2003 there were two wildfires that burned more than 400,000 acres of land and
destroyed nearly 6,000 structures and 4,000 vehicles throughout unincorporated San Diego
County. At its height, the fire advanced at a rate of two acres per second and lasted for 14
days.  The San Diego County Office of Public Works responded immediately, focusing all
available resources on the recovery effort. A plan was in place within a week and the debris
removal effort commenced approximately six weeks after the fires began.  Overall,  more than
128,000 tons of debris was collected in the wake of the fires. Approximately 74,000 tons of
concrete, metal, and vegetative debris was recycled resulting in a recycling  rate of nearly 60%
and preserving more than 185,000 cubic yards of landfill space.


While San Diego County did  have an emergency response plan in place before the fires, it did
not include a debris management plan.  During the first few weeks after the fires, county
officials focused on securing contractors to  collect, transport, manage, and  monitor debris
through a competitive bid process and established a fire debris assistance hotline. Subsequent
to this experience, the county identified that not having a plan as a major program  challenge.
The county felt that time could  have been saved and FEMA reimbursement may have been
easier if a plan was in place.


County officials quickly established a fully staffed, eight-hour-a-day fire debris hotline that
provided the public with information detailing all aspects of the county's fire debris removal
efforts.  The hotline served as a starting point for cleanup efforts and also gave residents
information on erosion control and  volunteer coordination. Hotline activity dramatically
increased after the county announced  its free debris removal services; more than 2,500 calls
were received related to the  county's  bin program. Additional public assistance was included a
on the county's website that was dedicated  to the firestorm, including an ash and debris cleanup
guidance document developed in collaboration with the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Collection and Recycling

The County had two incentives to recycle the disaster debris. At the time of the fires,
California required a 50% diversion rate.  The County could have deducted the wildfire debris
tonnages from the annual disposal tonnages if it was demonstrated that a majority of the
recyclables were diverted.  In addition, the County projected that their existing landfill had four
years left of capacity.

The County provided empty roll-off bins (typically 30 or 40 cubic yards each) to  be used by
citizens to remove debris from their property.  This service was provided at no cost to the fire
victims.  The bins were requested by both individual property owners and by communities
cleaning multiple properties. These bins were intended for use by the surrounding community -
owners of the property on which the bins were placed were required to sign right-to-enter
forms.  Thus,  anyone could use them, not just the person who requested the bin. The
residents were given written instructions to separate metals and wood first into  provided
recycling bins. After that, a bin was delivered for all remaining mixed debris material. County
officials concluded that the bin program was very successful in assisting in the timely clean-up of
fire debris from structures. More than  1,500 bins provided the infrastructure necessary for the
management of more than  10,000 tons of debris.

Most HHW had burned in the fires due to the intensity of the heat.  Some remained and
needed to be  collected to ensure health  of volunteers, workers, and the general  public. San
Diego County held three temporary HHW collection events following the wildfires. They
collected more than 82,000 pounds of material at the events,  13,000 pounds of which was from
fire victims. The County also established a burned vehicle program that collected and recycled
more than 4,000 vehicles.

Additional lessons learned from the wildfires and  subsequent debris management can be found
at:  The final report, "County of San Diego Debris
Removal and  Recycling Programs for the 2003 Cedar & Paradise Fires Final Report," published
in 2005, can be found at this website. San Diego  County's Department of Public  Works can be
found at:


On September 15, 2004, Escambia County, Florida, Hurricane Ivan made landfall  with winds
exceeding 130 miles per  hour. The 661 square mile county, including the  Pensacola
metropolitan  area, was impacted by the storm's eastern eyewall that produced the strongest
wind gusts and heaviest rain bands. The storm generated more than ten million cubic yards of
debris in a 12-hour period. Escambia County successfully diverted more than half of the debris
from disposal  in landfills and recovered more than 90% of the displaced beach sand.


Escambia County Solid Waste Management Department officials had a hurricane  debris
management plan in place prior to Hurricane Ivan. The plan, drafted in 2003, was the
culmination of months  of work.  Mark Triplett, the acting director of solid waste management

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
for Escambia County at the time of the storm, stated that the time spent planning was time well
spent.  In developing the plan, private contractors submitted  information to be placed on a list
of potential debris management service providers.  County officials planned to select
contractors from this list in the event of a disaster.

The existing management plan also identified temporary debris storage and processing sites.
Many of the county-owned parks were used to stage debris for processing and disposal.  These
sites easily could be returned to recreational facilities after the debris was removed. One large
debris site that was  not in the original plan was Blue Angel Recreation Area, formerly the
Bronson Field  Naval Air Station.  Triplett said, "Being granted permission to use Old Bronson
Field to process debris was a godsend." Approximately two  million cubic yards of debris was
processed at the Navy-owned recreation area. The County would have realized  a major short-
coming in its storage capacity without the site. The temporary sites that had  been included in
the County's plan could not have accommodated such a large volume of debris.

Collection and Recycling

Hurricane Ivan generated more than ten million cubic yards of debris in Escambia County.
Escambia County and Florida Department of Transportation  road crews quickly began the task
of clearing major roadways of debris immediately as soon as  it was safe.  County  officials also
began contracting debris management service providers and consultants to manage the removal
and management activities. Triplett stated that clearing the roadways by cutting and staging
downed trees  was the first priority of the state and county road crews while County officials
initiated the contractor selection process. This first stage of debris removal by County road
crews allowed time  to secure contractors. Triplett stated that clearing the roads usually takes
between five and seven days, depending on the size of the storm.

Once contracts were in place, it was ultimately the debris contractors' responsibility to identify
the means of debris management.  The contractors knew that the vegetative waste held value
and was marketable. The vegetative waste was ground into mulch and  then managed in various
ways, including incineration, land application, and as a raw material in paper mills. Nearly all of
the two million cubic yards of debris processed at the Blue Angel Recreation Area was
exported to Italy after the contractors  brokered a deal for its use as  biomass  in power plants.
The mulch was transported to Port Canaveral, Florida,  and then shipped from there to Italy.
The County managed more than 6.5 million cubic yards of vegetative debris in various ways:
60% exported  to Italy and sold as biomass for energy generation; 15% sold to paper mills; 15%
used as landfill cover; and 10% incinerated on site in air curtain incinerators.

Sand was another type of debris displaced along the barrier islands of Escambia County. The
storm eroded  the existing beaches and dune system and deposited the sand onto roadways and
beachfront properties and into Escambia  Bay.  More than  1.35 million cubic yards of sand
needed to be moved. The sand was filtered through a screen to sort out contaminants and to
comply with restrictions regarding the composition of the area's beach sand.  Approximately
95% of the sand was recovered through the screening process and reused to establish a five-
year protective berm.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Communication with the Public

As soon as the area was placed under a hurricane warning, Escambia County officials began
communicating with the public through radio and TV public service announcements. Residents
were urged to segregate debris generated by the hurricane from other household or municipal
wastes.  These messages continued throughout the event and were the primary means of
communication with the public until newspapers resumed operations. A debris hotline was also
established after Hurricane Ivan and was still in operation a year later, making valuable
contributions to the clean up efforts of both Hurricanes Dennis and Katrina in 2005.

Lessons Learned

County officials included a list of contractors in the county's debris management plan. The
contractors were  not pre-qualified, which slowed the initial evaluation process after the storm
hit. It took 12 days to select three contractors and finalize rates and contracts. If the
contractors had been pre-qualified prior to  Hurricane Ivan's landfall, they could have begun
processing debris as  road crews staged it. County officials have since revised  their current
debris management plan. It now contains pre-qualified debris contractors in the case of
another storm or  other disaster event. These contractors can be mobilized and engaged prior
to the landfall of a hurricane.

Escambia County officials also learned that communication with the public should be ongoing
through a public awareness campaign. Triplett stated that the lack of such a campaign was a
significant flaw in their preparations.  One of the biggest problems that the county faced was
public outcry for debris to be picked up sooner rather than later.  Making the public aware of
the county's debris management procedures and policies would help the public plan and react
in a better and more efficient way.

The Escambia County Debris Management Plan can be found at:


The City of Los Angeles relied heavily on recycling to manage debris from the January 1994
earthquake.  In response to the earthquake, City staff negotiated with FEMA to designate
recycling as the preferred method of debris  management. The City developed contracts with
existing businesses to recycle clean,  source-separated materials and worked with more than
nine businesses to develop  processing capacity for mixed debris.  By midsummer, the City was
able to recycle approximately 56% of the earthquake debris collected, totaling over 1.5 million

Collection and Recycling

The City of Los Angeles did not have a plan  for debris management prior to the earthquake  but
quickly developed  debris management procedures  after the disaster. The day after the
earthquake struck, the City instituted a curbside debris collection  program. Prior to the
earthquake, C&D  materials typically composed 10% to  15% of Los Angeles' debris stream but

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
increased from 150 tons per day to  10,000 tons per day following the earthquake. City officials
updated an existing list of licensed, insured debris removal contractors, asked them to attend
an orientation meeting, and signed contracts for debris removal.

At first, contracts for debris removal were only two pages long and expired after one week of
work.  These early contracts allowed the City to begin removing debris quickly, yet did not
include recycling, subcontracting parameters, or other requirements. Contracts ultimately
grew to 22 pages.  The City assigned each contractor a grid of streets to clear.  City inspectors
monitored  contractors and kept records to determine whether debris in each area was
collected within seven days of being set out.  When contractors expended their total contract
amounts, City officials placed them at the bottom of the list of approved contractors and called
them again  when their turns came.

After two months of negotiation, FEMA allowed the City to include recycling as a debris
management method.  This decision was based primarily on the City's local policy supporting
recycling and a recycling pilot that documented a potential 82% recycling rate.  Contractors
separated wood, metal, soil, concrete and asphalt, and red clay brick. Most of the materials
collected were recyclable.  Recyclers crushed concrete and asphalt (mixed with up to  15% soil)
and sold it for use as sub-base in roads.  They reused  soil as landfill cover and soil amendment.
They ground and screened wood,  selling fine pieces by the cubic yard for landscaping and
coarse pieces for compost or biomass-to-energy. Recycling facilities either ground up brick for
use on baseball infields or chipped it for use in landscaping.  Scrap metal dealers recycled metal

The City required its contractors to send all mixed  debris to four facilities that were capable of
recycling it.  Two of them used an automated process that screened out fine debris and sent
the remainder along a conveyor belt where workers removed  and separated wood, brick,
metal, and trash  by hand. A vibrating screen removed any soil  left in the remaining stream.  At
the end of the process, only clean  concrete and asphalt were left.  The facilities  were able to
recycle approximately 80% of the mixed debris.

City officials also ensured that debris was recycled by providing incentives to haulers.  For
example, City  officials required haulers to develop a recycling plan that included scouting for
recyclables and dedicating trucks to a given type of debris, so that debris separated at the curb
did not become mixed in the truck  The City also created contract incentives that placed
source-separated recycling at a higher priority than  mixed recycling. With these efforts, the
City expanded its C&D recycling capacity by approximately 10,000 tons per day. Immediately
after the earthquake, all debris began to  be disposed of in only three landfills. Just over a year
later, the City had added  18 recycling facilities and one landfill.  This expansion also helped meet
a long-term goal to increase recycling of routine C&D materials.

Communication to the Public

Soon after the earthquake, officials announced to the  public through various  media outlets that
they could leave debris for pickup  on the street in a pile as wide as a parked  car. At first, the
City allowed residents to leave mixed debris at the  curb, but as the effort progressed, residents
were asked to separate concrete and asphalt, soil, red clay brick, wood, and all other material.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
Residents had become accustomed to the relaxed requirements that allowed them to set out
mixed debris, so City workers distributed door-hangers requesting that residents separate
debris. Where residents still did not separate debris into its recyclable components, work
crews preceded the debris haulers to separate the debris. When residents placed yard
trimmings or other non-earthquake-related debris on the curb, workers left door-hangers
explaining why these materials were not picked up and provided directions on how to reuse,
recycle, or dispose of it.

The City relied on both residents and City staff to determine which locations needed debris
removal.  A telephone hotline staffed by multilingual operators accepted residents' requests for
debris removal. Staff entered the address of each caller into a GIS-database and regularly
produced maps showing areas needing pickups.  At the same time, City inspectors supervising
the debris management work reported streets where debris was ready for pickup.

Lessons Learned

The Los Angeles program successfully recycled and diverted a high percentage of the debris
generated from the  Northridge earthquake.  Although the efforts were successful, the efforts
were reactive because the City did not have a comprehensive disaster debris management plan
in place prior to the earthquake. While this approach worked in this instance, other
communities may not experience this level of success without a considerable amount of pre-
disaster planning.  Most communities would find it beneficial to develop a disaster debris
management plan if they hope to recycle a reasonably high percentage of the debris generated.
Los Angeles attributed  its success to quick action  and to a high level of participation and
cooperation  by its residents.

Outside Assistance

In the aftermath of the  Northridge quake, the California Office of Emergency Services provided
a liaison to FEMA and issued emergency regulations expanding permit hours for solid waste
facilities.  FEMA funded the debris recycling program, including paying recycling facility tipping
fees, as well as the costs associated with hiring data entry staff and contracting with a consultant
to manage recycling efforts.  In addition, recycling saved the City transportation  costs since
recycling facilities were closer to the devastated areas and many had shorter lines. California's
Integrated Waste Management Board helped Los Angeles obtain this funding by  writing a letter
to FEMA stating that recycling was state policy.  Los Angeles, like every community in
California, has been  required to submit a plan for  source reduction, recycling, and composting
under the state's Integrated Waste Management and Litter Reduction Act.  FEMA determined
that since Los Angeles had a recycling policy prior to the earthquake, the City did not need to
demonstrate that recycling would save money in order to obtain FEMA funding.


During the first week of October 2005, the western part of the State of New Hampshire was
subjected to intense flooding and damage. The area received approximately 12-inches of rainfall
in a 30-hour period. The inability of existing drainage networks to handle the intense rainfall
caused a  road embankment to fail resulting in a  30-40 foot high wall of water and debris being

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
discharged into the valley.  The resulting flood resulted in loss of life, damage to private
property, destruction of homes and businesses, severe damage to infrastructure, extensive
erosion, contamination of drinking water and loss of agricultural productivity.

 Collection and Recycling

The local community field in the town became a temporary storage area for flood debris.
Materials were sorted into separate piles of tires, wood, cars, metal, and trees.  Trees were
shredded into wood chips and topsoil was recovered by screening some of the woody debris.

Communication to the Public

Soon after the flooding subsided, the Town of Alstead relied on local television, cell phones,
and word of mouth (the small nature of the town made this possible) to inform residents of the
magnitude of the flooding and what plans were being put in place to collect debris.

Lessons Learned

The Town found that statutory and rule authority needs to address debris management during
and after a disaster. Emergency Permits for temporary facilities were helpful in collecting,
processing, and disposing /reuse (CPD) of disaster debris.  Proximity of CPD's to the main
debris fields and damaged structures was a major factor in siting CPDs.  Approval of local land
owners may prove to be difficult on a short time schedule during the emergency. Pre-
identifying emergency CPDs is extremely helpful so that their site capacity and handling rates
can be estimated. It is also necessary to account for any archeological, historic or
environmental issues associate with these CPD sites.  Modification of existing facility permits,
on a temporary basis, was important to handle incoming disaster debris. Among the
modifications were the allowance of vegetative material/tree parts to be disposed in landfills
with debris and the annual/monthly disposal rates to be exceeded to account for the additional
disaster debris.

Pre-planning in the following areas also can save time and money and/or increase the
effectiveness of the operations:  I) estimate volumes and types of debris to be encountered, 2)
establish debris segregation protocol (including homeowner curbside and separate containers
for homeowners and state clean-up debris) prior to the event and communicate with others,
e.g. FEMA, ACE, EPA, USCG and Other States, so that there is a minimum of duplication of
efforts, 3) pre-identify processing/disposal facilities and capacities (e.g., wood burning power
plants for tree/brush/clean wood), and 4) open burning is almost inevitable for some debris;
especially trees and brush (pre-identify State Air Agency/EPA requirements for the burns,
including air monitoring).

Implementation of clean-up efforts was another area where valuable lessons were learned.
These included: I) trying to have 2-3 weeks of supplies for response staff to be self-sufficient
on-site, 2) reviewing debris clean-up projects for any Supplemental Environmental Projects
(SEPs) being considered by the enforcement agencies to see if they can be included and/or
modified for disaster debris clean-up, 3) reviewing debris types and characteristics and deciding
if any special processing tools are relevant (e.g. shaking screens to remove dirt/sediment from

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
building debris prior to landfill disposal, need for tugs to remove sunk vessels, etc), and 4)
making sure that homeowner debris is separate from state/local agency clean-up efforts to
simplify FEMA reimbursement.

Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
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Planning for Natural Disaster Debris
                        Appendix B

         Hazardous Waste Bulking Center Overview
                 Public Information Flyers
               Used for Debris Management
             During Hurricane Katrina Clean-up
                        in Louisiana

    Orleans Household Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Waste Bulking Center
                           Updated May 13,2006 by EPA Region 6
Orleans Household Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Waste Bulking Center (10200 Old
Gentilly Rd, New Orleans, LA 70127)

The Bulking Center receives household hazardous wastes (HHW) and hazardous waste (HW)
from EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers (USAGE) crews. All HHW are shipped off site as
non-hazardous after being categorized according to hazard class. The other waste streams
handled include commercial and industrial waste streams or products. These are characterized
and bulked if possible prior to shipment as hazardous waste.  Water/fuel mixtures recovered
from automobile gas tanks are bulked.

Introduction to the Pad

The Orleans HHW/HW Bulking Center (the Pad) is laid out to direct vehicles through a counter
clockwise route. This allows  EPA crews to drop off commercial/industrial waste prior to
entering the HHW area. Also for EPA crews collecting ammunition they must drop this material
off before moving on to other locations on the Bulking Center.  Although the USAGE
contractors follow the same route, they proceed to the HHW counting station and then are off-
loaded in a sorting area, divided according to waste classification categories.

This summary presents a brief description of the stages of unloading and characterization and
what to look for at each station.

Site Safety and Evacuation

Three short blasts on the air horn indicate the need to evacuate the area.  Immediately stop what
you are doing, observe the wind socks and proceed upwind or crosswind to either the front
(adjacent to the office trailers) or back (open field off the southeast corner of the) muster
location.  If you are driving in the beyond the pad entry area and the evacuation alarm sounds,
stop and put the vehicle in park, turn it off, and leave the key in the ignition - proceed on foot to
the muster location. One long blast on the air horn means "all clear."

During severe weather alerts the crews will be instructed to move to the concrete building at the
rear of the pad near the propane tank storage area. There are doors on the north and south sides
of the building.

Air Monitoring

The Superfund Technical Assessment & Response Team (START) contractors maintain and
monitor the air monitors which are generally located in the following locations:

    1.  Oxidizer Section
    2.  HHW Hazcat Section
    3.  Flammable/Bulking area
    4.  Chemical Offloading Pad (2 monitors)
    5.  Gas Tank Bulking Area/Haz Cat (2
    6.  Special Refrigerator Storage Area
    7.  HW storage Pad
    8.  Cylinder Storage Pad

When the Pad is operating with a limited crew,
such as on Sunday when no bulking or Hazcat
operations are performed, or when a location
has no stored wastes, fewer monitors are needed.
The air monitors measure LEL (Lower Explosive Limit), O2, CO, H2S, and VOCs.  The monitor
at the Special Refrigerator Storage Area monitors SO2 in place of CO. The monitors in the
Oxidizer Section and the Hazcat Section also monitor for CL2 in place of H2S. The monitors in
the Oxidizer Section, Hazcat Section, Gas Tank Bulking Area/HW Hazcat Area and Special
Refrigerator Storage Area also have Gas Alert single gas monitors for Ammonia.

All of these monitors are checked every hour, and the current and maximum readings for each
parameter are recorded in a logbook.  The units are also data loggers and are downloaded at the
end of each day.

START contractors will enter the  site in the morning and set up the air monitoring stations prior
to entry by the crews. START is responsible for completing air monitoring activities. The
ERRS crews at a station are aware of the monitors and have been  instructed to move away from
the area if the alarm on a monitoring location continues to sound.  They will notify START of
the alarm.  Once conditions have improved the crew can continue working in the area.

       1.  Site Entry

The administrative trailers
are at the site entrance.
There is a Command Post
(EPA/START) trailer and a
contractor (Emergency
Rapid Responders or
ERRS) trailer.  All visitors
are requested to sign in and
out inside the Command
Post.  This includes the
US ACE QA staff and
contractors working for the
ER Group who are not

assigned to the Bulking Center who come on site to drop off firearms and ammunition. This
does not include collection crews only dropping off their HHW/HW loads.

Also in this area are "conex" shipping containers with water, Tyvek, gloves, and other supplies
near the ERRS trailer. The break area tent for the pad workers is also located in this area.
Portable toilets are located just south of the break tent.  The large abandoned building on the site
is not to be used by the crews.

There is a stop sign at the truck entrance. Beyond this point hard hat, safety glasses and high
visibility vest are required. Cell phones and radios should be turned off.  Bobcats, large trucks,
and other heavy equipment traverse the pad in various directions past this point, so caution is
There two USAGE contractors who monitor their trucks coming and going at this point. These
contractors are not under our control so we ask that they sign in and out every day to ensure their
safely on the site. The USAGE contractors check the HHW trucks come in, looking for hazard
items which should not have been collected (e.g., biomedical wastes, ammunition) and for mixed
incompatible chemicals; feedback is given to the crews to improve the process. The EPA
representative should spot-check this QA process and assist in speeding this check during
periodic truck backups. Field Observers might also watch here for unstable or unsafe loads
coming in to the PAD. This includes leaking containers that are not bagged and liquids spilled
inside the bins.

The HHW/HW pad receives items from multiple contractors working for the USAGE and EPA.
Currently, we are receiving items from Orleans Parish on a daily basis.  Items are also received
from Jefferson Parish, although this does  not appear to be a regular drop-off EPA crews are also
traveling to Plaquemines Parish a few days a week to pickup HHW from the USAGE contractors
in that Parish at a central location. The USAGE contractors delivering items to the HHW
collection site include: EE&G, EGG and CERIS (Jefferson Parish).  EGG delivers HHW in two
trucks; one is a large stake bed truck and the other is a pickup and trailer marked with ES&H.

Field Observer might watch for PPE being donned prior to entry.  Safety glasses, hard hats and
highly visible vest are required. Gloves should be worn when any waste materials are being
handled.  There are hand washing/emergency eye washing stations just adjacent to the corrosives

station, at the Hazcat station, at the drum storage facility, at the battery pad, and within the gas
tank bulking facility. Additional PPE is required for workers in the HHW Bulking, Fire
Extinguisher Station and Gas Tank Bulking Area.

The drivers of the USAGE trucks are not allowed to exit their vehicles while in the pad area,
except in an emergency.

       2.  Counting station.

Only HHW loads are counted at this location. For EPA commercial/industrial waste operations,
START contractors are responsible  for counting the items, which usually involves drums,
cylinders and automobile gas tanks. On the way, the trucks pass the following features that will
be discussed further along: scrap metal salvage pad, conex boxes for ammunition and weapons,
hazardous waste bulking and storage areas, non-freon refrigerant area, and the pad for standard
propane cylinders and commercial-size gas cylinders.

The counting station is staffed by one to
two START contractors, according to
the day and time. The task of the
counters is to count and mark each item
(HHW) in the incoming truck.  Items
are counted in three categories; propane
tanks, cylinders, and "smalls".  The
"smalls" are essentially anything that
doesn't fall into one of the other
categories.  Each item is marked with
orange spray paint during the count.
We do not count empty containers.  Our count is for the tracking of the total quantity of material
kept out of the municipal landfill. This allows the Pad to keep a tally of items delivered by EPA
and USAGE contractors.  There are two exceptions to counting the loads: one of the larger EGG
trucks is counted when it is unloaded due to the size of the load and the way the bins are stacked;
and the box trucks, carrying large items,
will be unloaded prior to counting.  The
counters should never count items inside
of box trucks because of the potential for
fumes to collect inside the trucks.

The START contractors try to get a true
item count although some items such as
medicines and other small items that
would normally be packaged together
are estimated or counted as one item. In
addition to not counting empty
containers, the counters should not count
non-HHW items, such as caulking tubes, hair care products, laundry detergents, incandescent
light bulbs and numerous other items, that  the crews have been clearly instructed not to collect.

       3.  Chemical Offloading Pad
Trucks go directly from the counting station to the Chemical Offloading Pad. From this area, all
chemicals are taken to the various stations around the pad. Typically the workers from each
station gather the materials appropriate to their station in order to have the trucks unloaded more
quickly.  The stations are described later in this document. From the unloading station the trucks
leave the Pad for further collections.

Field Observers should look for items placed in the wrong area, such as waste oils placed on
paint pallets, cylinders placed in the wrong holding area (oxygen with flammables) and
miscellaneous leaking containers placed in with the leaking paint boxes.

For all areas at the end of the shift the workers should cover with plastic sheeting any items that
were not processed and close the lids on any drums or boxes.

       4. Household Hazardous Waste and Commercial/Industrial Waste Stations

This is a summary of HHW/HW  stations on the Pad, and the procedures at each station.  Stations
are discussed in counterclockwise order following the route of the truck.

       a) Shipping Pad

Bulked waste drums, overpack drums,
and waste in Gaylord boxes are stored
on a center-draining concrete pad
which has a sealed drain. These
containers are taken to Phillips
Services in Houston, TX. Field
Observes should check the condition
of the containers and verify that
commercial/industrial waste is  being handled properly

       b) Fire Extinguisher Station

Here fire extinguishers are emptied,
some of them are crushed others are
placed directly into a scrap metal roll
off bin.

Caution: Some halon extinguishers are
designed for high release rates,
presenting a high danger; crew
members at this station should be
reminded to never attempt to discharge
them. These units do not have  hand-

held triggers. All halon units are now stored in a Gaylord box for delivery to a facility where
they can be safely exhausted.
Fire extinguishers are unloaded at the Chemical Offloading Pad and placed in pallets with
plywood sides.  They are then taken by forklift to the Fire Extinguisher Pad for processing.
powder is placed in a Gaylord box (cardboard 1-cubic-yard box).  The powder is taken to
Phillips Services in Houston, TX.
       c)  Scrap Salvage Station

The scrap salvage "crushing" station is located on the
west side of the scrap metal roll-off bin. Empty metal
containers such as gasoline tanks, fire extinguishers,
insulation cylinders, and drums are crushed and
placed in the scrap bin. The scrap metal is taken to
Southern Scrap.  Plastic tanks and drums are also
crushed here before placement in the trash roll off
Field observers should watch that the area is roped off during the time the crew is crushing
empty containers and that containers are empty.
       d) Ammunition and Weapons Storage

Ammunition and weapons are stored but not
processed here. Field Observers should make sure the
boxes are locked and have "Flammable" placards.
The area should be kept picked up, no open
containers and no trash in the area. The boxes are
moved in and out as needed for disposal. These items
are brought in by the Emergency Response Branch
teams. The ammunition is taken by Clean Harbors.
       e)  Battery Storage Area

Batteries are placed on pallets in the HHW
unloading pad and full pallets are
transferred to the storage pad which is
located on the west edge of the site. The
batteries are periodically picked up by
Interstate Battery Company.

       f)  Gas Tank Bulking and Commercial/Industrial Waste Storage/Hazcat
Automotive gasoline/diesel tanks are unloaded into the building or on the concrete pad located
on the north end of the building. Empty tanks are
unloaded directly in the scrap salvage area.  The
fuel is bulked into drums which are transferred to
the drum shipping pad.  The empty tanks are then
crushed and placed in the scrap metal roll-off.
Oil can also be bulked in this area.   The observer
should make sure that tanks with fuel have all but
one of their lines duct-taped in order to prevent
spillage or vapor buildup. Hazardous waste (HW)
Hazcat testing is also performed in the building.

The HW storage area is located across the road (west) from the gasoline bulking area. Drums are
stored here until they are categorized. After Hazcat testing, they are transferred to the drum
storage/shipping pad for shipping.  The observer should watch for leaking drums and tears in the
liners. Drums placed here should have a tracking ("T") number marked on them;  START also
marks these drums with a "D" number for tracking purposes.

       g)  Special Refrigerator Storage Area

Special refrigerators use non-freon
refrigerants. Two common refrigerants
are sulfur dioxide and ammonia. Like
ammunition and firearms, special
refrigerators are not processed here.  They
are only stored until a full load is
accumulated;  then they will be shipped off
site for disposal.  Special units include:
Sulfur dioxide, ammonia, methyl formate,
R-l 13, and R-23.  Based upon information
in the NIOSH guide, SO2 units should be segregated from the ammonia units. Units should be
stored in an orderly manner. Units are only accepted from one of our crews. Dumas (an ERRS
subcontractor) periodically picks up these

       h)  Tank/Cylinder Pad

Pressure tanks and cylinders (e.g., propane,
Freon, oxygen, acetylene) are accumulated
Propane tanks are  off-loaded at the Chemical
Offloading Pad and then taken by wagon to
the Tank/Cylinder Pad where they are

accumulated prior to being placed on pallets, secured with plastic wrap, and made ready for
shipment. These cylinders pallets are stored just east of the pad and are picked up by Blue

Containers of Freon gas are handled by the same contractor, Dumas, who does the extractions at
the White Goods area.  The empty containers are then returned to the site and crushed.   The
Freon contractor cannot take cylinders without a label. These should be separated for alternative

Miscellaneous small tanks (insulation, pesticides, and adhesives) are also stored at this location
prior to disposal.

Commercial-size cylinders are stored into segregated areas, grouped as flammables, non-
flammables, oxidizers and unknowns.  Commercial cylinders should have T-numbers marked on
them by the collection crews prior to being dropped off at the pad.  START will add a C-number
at the pad. These numbers are used to track the items into and out from the Pad Site. If the
cylinders have owner labels, owners are contacted and asked to retrieve their property.  Orphan
oxygen and carbon dioxide cylinders will be vented on site; orphan propane cylinders are burned
off in the northwest area of the site using large gas cooking burners with pots of water.

Field observers should observe whether the tanks/cylinders are being handled and segregated in a
safe manner.  Aisle space should be left between the propane pallets to allow access to the

       i)  Bulking Pad

Oil, antifreeze, poisons, and flammable liquids are bulked here. Most poisons to be bulked
arrive in unmarked sprayers (the manual pump insecticide sprayers). The containers first go
through the Hazcat station to make sure their contents are compatible. Flammable liquids to be
bulked include various oils and gasoline that arrives in gas cans. The flammable liquid drums
are grounded to prevent sparking.
Potential issues for a Field Observer to
keep in mind here is the potential for some
incompatible material to be mixed in with
the gasoline and other flammable
materials. Gasoline tanks are assumed to
contain gasoline, but other uses are
possible. Proper grounding of bulking
tanks is important to avoid buildup of
static electricity. In addition to the
protective clothing worn by all pad workers, this area requires respirators and splash aprons.
addition, workers should attempt to bulk and secure all material received at this pad prior to
leaving for the night.

       j)  Hazardous Waste Categorization

This section is where unknown materials are
separated into broad categories according to their
hazard class (as opposed to specific chemical make-
up).  The Hazcat station workers may wear Level C
PPE during some categorization.
The purpose of the hazard categorization (Hazcat)
and segregation is to pack and bulk items for shipping and prevent incompatible chemicals from
being packed and shipped together. Incompatible chemicals might react with each other during
shipment and cause fire, toxic vapors, explosions, or other dangerous reactions.

Actual identification of each and every chemical is not required in order to pack products for
shipping, and, given the large number of items passing through this facility, such identification is
not practical.

With minor modifications specific to this site, personnel at the Hazcat station at this pad follows
procedures outlined in the Environmental Quality Management, Inc., Standard Operating

Because this analysis is conducted outdoors, fume hoods are not required.

1. Sample Documentation:  Record color, clarity, and other physical description of the sample.

2. Air Monitoring:  Screen the sample with a PID (Photo lonization Detector) or FID (Flame
lonization Detector) to help identify volatile compounds in the sample.

3. Solubility Testing: Water will be used for solubility testing at this site.

4. Density Test:  Used for insoluble compounds. Recorded as lighter or denser than water.

5. Sample Reactivity:  Air reactivity is observed upon opening the sample prior to hazcat testing.
Air reactivity is normally a result of a reaction with moisture in the air.

6. Water Reactivity is noted during water solubility testing.

7. pH Test: pH is tested during water solubility testing.  The pH strip is first immersed in water
to wet it. The strip is then placed in the sample.  The strip color is compared against a chart.

8. Peroxide Test: Flammable solvents should be tested for the presence of peroxides.  Peroxide
strips are used for this test.  The strips should be quality  control checked daily by immersing
them in hydrogen peroxide.

9. Oxidizer Test: This test also uses a test strip. The strip is wetted and one drop of 5% HC1 is
added to the strip.  If oxidizers are present, the strip will turn a blue-black color. These strips
should be quality control checked daily.

10.  Cyanide Test:  The cyanide test is available here, but is not normally run because cyanide is
not a common household chemical.

11.  Sulfide Test: Add sample to the test kit tube, add a few drops of HC1.  After agitation the lead
acetate paper will turn blue-black if sulfides are present.
12. The Bielstien Test: This test is used to determine if solvents are chlorinated solvents.
test will not be run at this site.
13. Flash Point:  A small portion of the sample is added to a watch glass. A lighted match is then
held near the sample.  If it lights, it is definitely flammable. If the match has to touch the sample
to light it, flash point is approximately 140° F. If it takes longer than a second to light the
sample the flashpoint is over 140° F.

       k) Oxidizer Area

This area is at the south end of the bulking/sorting tables located behind the unloading area.  This
area receives oxidizers including bleach, certain pool chemicals, and peroxides.  These chemicals
give off oxygen and can cause or enhance the combustion of other materials. Chemical names
ending in "ate" or "ite" such as chromate or nitrite, or beginning with "per" or "peroxy" indicate
Note that older pool treatment chemicals might be
hypochlorite, an oxidizer, while newer pool
chemicals may be organic chlorinators such as
isocyanurates (cyanuric acids), which are
incompatible with hypochlorites, strong bases, and
strong acids!! This is an example of products that
might be purchased for the same purpose, but are
not compatible.

       1)  "Household" Section
This is not a DOT category, but this section sorts chemicals from a wide variety of household
products into the appropriate containers. Acids and alkalines are packed separately.  Many
products fall into a broad category called "paint-related materials" or PRM.  These are boxed as
non-hazardous (for example, latex paint or caulking) if they don't contain hazardous chemicals,
or drummed as flammable if oil-based or containing flammable liquids like alcohols.

Sometimes seemingly-related materials
need to be put in separate categories.
For example, automobile windshield
fluid is a flammable PRM because it
contains methanol, while Windex is an
alkaline because it contains ammonia.
Another example is toilet bowl cleaner,
which  may be either a strong acid or a
strong  base. All HHW is shipped to
Phillips Services in Houston, TX.

       m) Poisons
The term "poison," according to the DOT
classification, simply means that it has been
classified as toxic even in small doses.
Products may contain the word "poison" in the
warning label as a warning against ingestion,
but not necessarily fall under the DOT
classification.  Common vaporous products
found in this section are insecticide gasses,
solvents, isocyanates, refrigerants, and
chlorinated materials under pressure.  These
items should either be capped, or have their
spray nozzle heads removed prior to packing.

Poisons in solid form may include medicines (frequently in prescription pharmacy containers),
pesticides & herbicides (like powders or granules in bags). Reactive chemicals such as
corrosives and oxidizers should be kept separate from these materials.

Various drums and lined Gaylord boxes are located behind these tables for the various categories
of waste.

       n) Flammable Section and Paints

This section separates flammable solids, liquids,
and aerosol cans into appropriate containers.
Flammable liquids should be packed in drums if

Paints are palletized according to latex or oil,
and transported to the front of double-lined roll-
off containers (one for oil, one for latex). Oil
paint cans are transported to a facility to be
crushed, and the paint used to make a fuel.
Latex is dried and disposed. Cans are recycled.

       o) Batteries

Automotive Batteries are palletized. They are
wrapped in yellow chemical resistant absorbents if
open or leaking. Full pallets are stored on the west
edge of the facility for pickup.

Small Batteries are separated and drummed
depending on the type.

       p) First Aid and Emergency Showers

The  first aid station is located on the left side as you enter the FtHW/HW operations, just outside
the exclusion zone. One emergency shower and eye wash station is located next to the first aid
station.  The other one is located in the drum storage building. Other emergency eye wash
stations are located near the Corrosives (battery), Hazcat, Oxidizers, and Gas Tank Bulking
stations.  One first aid responder is on site at all times of operation.

                              HURRICANE RESPONSE
                              '.-  , ''           DE
                 HURRICANE RESPONSE
                 St. Tammany Parish

  Items Must be Curbside by JANUARY 2, 2006

• Televisions, computers and other electronics will also be collected.


> You MUST place all items at the side of the road (Collectors CANNOT
  pick up white goods on private property). Do not place items in a ditch
  or on the road.

> Items must be curbside by January 2, 2006. Crews will begin to pick
  up white goods and electronics on January 3, 2006.

> This will be the final pick up of white goods in St. Tammany Parish by
  EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.
              Flyer prepared on December 13, 2005 -F49

United States Environmental Protection Agency
           Off ice of Solid Waste
               March 2008